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Nature. 1992 Feb 27;355(6363):850-2.

Selection in vitro of single-stranded DNA molecules that fold into specific ligand-binding structures.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston 02114.


We have isolated a set of ligand-binding DNA sequences from a large pool of random sequence DNAs by selection and amplification in vitro, using similar methods to those described for the isolation of ligand-binding RNAs. The ligand-DNA interactions are both sequence- and ligand-specific, and are dependent on proper folding of the single-stranded DNA. Some ligands led to the isolation of more DNA sequences than RNA sequences, and vice versa. Analysis of individual sequences reveals that ligand binding is DNA-specific; RNAs of identical sequence could not interact with the same ligands. Ligand-binding DNAs might be more suitable than RNAs as potential pharmacological reagents because of the greater stability of DNA. The apparent primacy of RNA in the early evolution of life may have been due to its availability rather than to its functional superiority.

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