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J Biotechnol. 2000 Mar;74(1):5-13.

Aptamers as therapeutic and diagnostic agents.

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Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder 80309-0347, USA.


Aptamers are oligonucleotides derived from an in vitro evolution process called SELEX. Aptamers have been evolved to bind proteins which are associated with a number of disease states. Using this method, many powerful antagonists of such proteins have been found. In order for these antagonists to work in animal models of disease and in humans, it is necessary to modify the aptamers. First of all, sugar modifications of nucleoside triphosphates are necessary to render the resulting aptamers resistant to nucleases found in serum. Changing the 2'OH groups of ribose to 2'F or 2'NH2 groups yields aptamers which are long lived in blood. The relatively low molecular weight of aptamers (8000-12000) leads to rapid clearance from the blood. Aptamers can be kept in the circulation from hours to days by conjugating them to higher molecular weight vehicles. When modified, conjugated aptamers are injected into animals, they inhibit physiological functions known to be associated with their target proteins. A new approach to diagnostics is also described. Aptamer arrays on solid surfaces will become available rapidly because the SELEX protocol has been successfully automated. The use of photo-cross-linkable aptamers will allow the covalent attachment of aptamers to their cognate proteins, with very low backgrounds from other proteins in body fluids. Finally, protein staining with any reagent which distinguishes functional groups of amino acids from those of nucleic acids (and the solid support) will give a direct readout of proteins on the solid support.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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