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J Mol Recognit. 2017 Apr;30(4). doi: 10.1002/jmr.2591. Epub 2016 Nov 28.

The DNA aptamer binds stemness-enriched cancer cells in pancreatic cancer.

Kim YJ1,2,3, Lee HS2,3, Jung DE2,3, Kim JM2,3, Song SY1,2,3.

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Brain Korea 21 PLUS Project for Medical Science, Yonsei University, Seoul, South Korea.
Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Internal Medicine, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, South Korea.
Yonsei Institute of Gastroenterology, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, South Korea.


Pancreatic cancer remains one of the most common and lethal cancers. Most patients (80%) present with inoperable advanced pancreatic cancer at initial diagnosis, and their early diagnosis is a significant unmet challenge. Recent studies indicate that cancer, including pancreatic cancer, is initiated and propagated by cancer stem cells (CSCs). CSCs are responsible not only for the pathogenesis of cancer but also for the heterogeneity, malignant degree, anticancer therapy resistance, and recurrence of tumors. Therefore, the identification of CSCs may be a crucial stepping stone for overcoming this disastrous pancreatic cancer. Here, we investigated pancreatic CSC-associated aptamers as a novel tool for diagnosis and therapeutic agents. Aptamers that bind to stemness-enriched cancer cells in pancreatic cancer were developed by modified Cell-SELEX method. Positive selection was performed by the sphere cells generated by pancreatic cancer cell line, HPAC, and then the aptamer pool was negatively selected by pancreatic normal cell line, HPDE. Aptamers 1 and 146 showing high specificity upon the KD values with 22.18 and 22.62 nM were selected. These 2 aptamers were validated by binding to HPAC sphere cells and to HPDE cells, and both aptamers showed specificity to HPAC sphere cells only. Aptamer-positive cells showed high expression levels of CSC-associated genes compared with the aptamer-negative cells by FACS analysis. The colocalization of CD44, CD24, ESA, and CD133 was also observed in the aptamer-positive cells by confocal microscopy. In the present study, these 2 pancreatic CSC-associated aptamers may be potential candidates for novel diagnostic markers, CSC-targeting drug delivery, or circulating tumor cell detection.


aptamer; cancer stem cell; circulating tumor cell; pancreatic cancer

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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