Nucleic acids research

Laboratory evolution of artificially expanded DNA gives redesignable aptamers that target the toxic form of anthrax protective antigen.

PMID 27701076


Reported here is a laboratory in vitro evolution (LIVE) experiment based on an artificially expanded genetic information system (AEGIS). This experiment delivers the first example of an AEGIS aptamer that binds to an isolated protein target, the first whose structural contact with its target has been outlined and the first to inhibit biologically important activities of its target, the protective antigen from Bacillus anthracis We show how rational design based on secondary structure predictions can also direct the use of AEGIS to improve the stability and binding of the aptamer to its target. The final aptamer has a dissociation constant of ∼35 nM. These results illustrate the value of AEGIS-LIVE for those seeking to obtain receptors and ligands without the complexities of medicinal chemistry, and also challenge the biophysical community to develop new tools to analyze the spectroscopic signatures of new DNA folds that will emerge in synthetic genetic systems replacing standard DNA and RNA as platforms for LIVE.