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Biochemistry. 1994 Aug 30;33(34):10450-6.

Inhibition of receptor binding by high-affinity RNA ligands to vascular endothelial growth factor.

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NeXagen, Inc., Boulder, Colorado 80301.


The proliferation of new blood vessels (angiogenesis) is a process that accompanies many pathological conditions including rheumatoid arthritis and solid tumor growth. Among angiogenic cytokines that have been identified to date, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is one of the most potent. We used SELEX [systematic evolution of ligands by exponential enrichment; Tuerk, C., & Gold, L. (1990) Science 249, 505-510] to identify RNA ligands that bind to VEGF in a specific manner with affinities in the low nanomolar range. Ligands were selected from a starting pool of about 10(14) RNA molecules containing 30 randomized positions. Isolates from the affinity-enriched pool were grouped into six distinct families on the basis of primary and secondary structure similarities. Minimal sequence information required for high-affinity binding to VEGF is contained in 29-36-nucleotide motifs. Binding of truncated (minimal) high-affinity ligands to VEGF is competitive with that of other truncated ligands and heparin. Furthermore, truncated ligands from the six ligand families inhibit binding of [125I]VEGF to its cell-surface receptors. Oligonucleotide ligands described here represent an initial set of lead compounds in our ongoing effort toward the development of potent and specific VEGF antagonists.

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