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Nucleic Acids Res. 1996 Mar 15;24(6):1029-36.

RNA aptamers that bind L-arginine with sub-micromolar dissociation constants and high enantioselectivity.

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Institut fur Biochemie, Genzentrum der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universit√§t M√ľnchen, Germany.


A completely randomized RNA pool as well as a degenerate pool comprised of an RNA sequence which binds citrulline with a dissociation constant of 0 muM were used to select for tight binding arginine specific RNA aptamers. A modified in vitro selection scheme, based on affinity chromatography was applied to allow the enrichment of high affinity solution binders. The selection scheme included a negative selection with the non-cognate ligand citrulline, and a heat denaturation step prior to affinity elution with an excess of the cognate ligand arginine. After 20 cycles the majority of the pools bound specifically to the arginine matrix even after denaturation/renaturation in the presence of 20 mM of a non-cognate amino acid. When denatured and eluted in the presence of 20 mM arginine, the selected RNAs quantitatively washed off the column. These RNA aptamers were cloned and sequenced. Equilibrium dialysis performed with the most abundant clone among the selected sequence revealed Kd values of 330 nM for the RNA/arginine affinity, which is nearly a 200-fold improvement over the tightest binding arginine binding RNAs known to date. Arginine recognition by this RNA is highly enantioselectice: L- arginine is bound 12 000-fold better than D-arginine. Chemical modification analysis revealed that the secondary structure of the aptamer might contain a pseudoknot motif. Our tight binding arginine aptamers join a number of natural and in vitro selected RNAs which recognize arginine. The RNAs described here compare in their binding affinity with the tightest binding RNA aptamers for low molecular weight molecules isolated in other in vitro selection experiments.

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