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J Biol Chem. 2001 May 11;276(19):16464-8. Epub 2001 Feb 13.

Systematic evolution of a DNA aptamer binding to rat brain tumor microvessels. selective targeting of endothelial regulatory protein pigpen.

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Institute of Brain Research, University of Tuebingen, Calwer Strasse 3, D-72076 Tuebingen, Germany.


Tumor microvessels differ in structure and metabolic function from normal vasculature, and neoangiogenesis is associated with quantitative and qualitative changes in expression of endothelial proteins. Such molecules could serve as molecular addresses differentiating the tumor vasculature from those of the normal brain. We have applied Systematic Evolution of Ligands by EXponential enrichment (SELEX) against transformed endothelial cells as a complex target to select single-stranded DNA-ligands (aptamers) that function as histological markers to detect microvessels of rat experimental glioma, a fatal brain tumor that is highly vascularized. Both the SELEX selection procedure as well as subsequent deconvolution-SELEX were analyzed by fluorescence based methods (flow cytometry and fluorescence microscopy). Of 25 aptamers analyzed, one aptamer was selected that selectively bound microvessels of rat brain glioblastoma but not the vasculature of the normal rat brain including peritumoral areas. The molecular target protein of aptamer III.1 was isolated from endothelial cells by ligand-mediated magnetic DNA affinity purification. This protein was identified by mass spectrometry as rat homologue of mouse pigpen, a not widely known endothelial protein the expression of which parallels the transition from quiescent to angiogenic phenotypes in vitro. Because neoangiogenesis, the formation of new blood vessels, is a key feature of tumor development, the presented aptamer can be used as a probe to analyze pathological angiogenesis of glioblastoma. The presented data show that pigpen is highly expressed in tumor microvessels of experimental rat brain glioblastoma and may play an important role in warranting blood supply, thus growth of brain tumors.

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