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Metastatic recurrence is the most important biological behavior of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and the main cause of treatment failure. Early prediction of metastasis is currently impossible due to the lack of specific molecular probes to recognize metastatic HCC cells. Aptamers have recently emerged as the most promising potential molecular probes for a variety of biomedical applications. Stepwise metastatic HCC cell lines including HCCLM9 with high metastatic potential and MHCC97-L with low metastatic potent, were used to select aptamers for HCC metastasis. By applying newly developed cell-SELEX against whole living cells, we used the HCCLM9 as screening target cell and¬¬¬¬ the MHCC97-L as subtractive cell to select and generate aptamer LY-1 as an effective molecular probe to recognize HCC cells. When conjugated with fluorescent nanoparticles QDs, the aptamer LY-1-QD conjugates could specifically recognize not only highly metastatic HCC cells in liver and lung tissue section in animal model but also in clinical specimens. Furthermore, the aptamer LY-1- magnetic beads conjugates could effectively detect and extract metastatic HCC cells from complex mixture whole blood. More importantly, the selected aptamer LY-1 could not only recognize highly metastatic HCC cells with high affinity and specificity, but also inhibit the invasion and metastasis of HCC cells.
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