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ACS Nano. 2011 Oct 25;5(10):7722-9. doi: 10.1021/nn2006927. Epub 2011 Sep 7.

Evolution and protein packaging of small-molecule RNA aptamers.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry and The Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California 92037, United States.


A high-affinity RNA aptamer (K(d) = 50 nM) was efficiently identified by SELEX against a heteroaryldihydropyrimidine structure, chosen as a representative drug-like molecule with no cross reactivity with mammalian or bacterial cells. This aptamer, its weaker-binding variants, and a known aptamer against theophylline were each embedded in a longer RNA sequence that was encapsidated inside a virus-like particle by a convenient expression technique. These nucleoprotein particles were shown by backscattering interferometry to bind to the small-molecule ligands with affinities similar to those of the free (nonencapsidated) aptamers. The system therefore comprises a general approach to the production and sequestration of functional RNA molecules, characterized by a convenient label-free analytical technique.

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