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J Biol Chem. 1999 Apr 30;274(18):12730-7.

DNA aptamers selected against the HIV-1 trans-activation-responsive RNA element form RNA-DNA kissing complexes.

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INSERM U 386, IFR Pathologies Infectieuses, Université Victor Segalen, 146 rue Léo Saignat, F-33076 Bordeaux Cedex, France.


In vitro selection was performed in a DNA library, made of oligonucleotides with a 30-nucleotide random sequence, to identify ligands of the human immunodeficiency virus type-1 trans-activation-responsive (TAR) RNA element. Aptamers, extracted after 15 rounds of selection-amplification, either from a classical library of sequences or from virtual combinatorial libraries, displayed an imperfect stem-loop structure and presented a consensus motif 5'ACTCCCAT in the apical loop. The six central bases of the consensus were complementary to the TAR apical region, giving rise to the formation of RNA-DNA kissing complexes, without disrupting the secondary structure of TAR. The RNA-DNA kissing complex was a poor substrate for Escherichia coli RNase H, likely due to steric and conformational constraints of the DNA/RNA heteroduplex. 2'-O-Methyl derivatives of a selected aptamer were binders of lower efficiency than the parent aptamer in contrast to regular sense/antisense hybrids, indicating that the RNA/DNA loop-loop region adopted a non-canonical heteroduplex structure. These results, which allowed the identification of a new type of complex, DNA-RNA kissing complex, demonstrate the interest of in vitro selection for identifying non-antisense oligonucleotide ligands of RNA structures that are of potential value for artificially modulating gene expression.

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