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Nucleic Acids Res. 1995 Aug 25;23(16):3198-205.

RNA ligands to human nerve growth factor.

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  • 1Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder 80309-0347, USA.


High affinity RNA ligands to human nerve growth factor (NGF) were selected from pools of random RNA using SELEX [Tuerk, C. and Gold, L. (1990) Science, 249, 505-510]. Nerve growth factor, which is a protein required for the development of neurons, is not known to bind nucleic acids as part of its natural function. We describe two of the selected RNA molecules in detail. One of them is highly structured, folding into a pseudoknot with an additional hairpin-loop; this structure provides salt-resistant binding to NGF. The other is unstructured and elevated salt concentrations inhibit its binding. These molecules compete with each other for NGF binding. Our RNAs may furnish useful diagnostic tools for the study of an important neurotrophic protein; additionally, they illustrate another example of the potential for nucleic acids to take part in novel binding interactions.

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