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Anal Bioanal Chem. 2014 Apr;406(11):2727-32. doi: 10.1007/s00216-014-7661-7. Epub 2014 Feb 20.

High-throughput binding characterization of RNA aptamer selections using a microplate-based multiplex microcolumn device.

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School of Applied and Engineering Physics, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, 14853, USA.


We describe a versatile 96-well microplate-based device that utilizes affinity microcolumn chromatography to complement downstream plate-based processing in aptamer selections. This device is reconfigurable and is able to operate in serial and/or parallel mode with up to 96 microcolumns. We demonstrate the utility of this device by simultaneously performing characterizations of target binding using five RNA aptamers and a random library. This was accomplished through 96 total selection tests. Three sets of selections tested the effects of target concentration on aptamer binding compared to the random RNA library using aptamers to the proteins green fluorescent protein (GFP), human heat shock factor 1 (hHSF1), and negative elongation factor E (NELF-E). For all three targets, we found significant effects consistent with steric hindrance with optimum enrichments at predictable target concentrations. In a fourth selection set, we tested the partitioning efficiency and binding specificity of our three proteins' aptamers, as well as two suspected background binding sequences, to eight targets running serially. The targets included an empty microcolumn, three affinity resins, three specific proteins, and a non-specific protein control. The aptamers showed significant enrichments only on their intended targets. Specifically, the hHSF1 and NELF-E aptamers enriched over 200-fold on their protein targets, and the GFP aptamer enriched 750-fold. By utilizing our device's plate-based format with other complementary plate-based systems for all downstream biochemical processes and analysis, high-throughput selections, characterizations, and optimization were performed to significantly reduce the time and cost for completing large-scale aptamer selections.

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