Systematic Study of in Vitro Selection Stringency Reveals How To Enrich High-Affinity Aptamers
Alkhamis, O., & Xiao, Y. (2022, December 27). JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY.
Aptamers are oligonucleotide receptors with great potential for sensing and therapeutic applications. They are isolated from random libraries through an in vitro method termed systematic evolution of ligands by exponential enrichment (SELEX). Although SELEX-based methods have been widely employed over several decades, many aspects of the experimental process remain poorly understood in terms of how to adjust the selection conditions to obtain aptamers with the desired set of binding characteristics. As a result, SELEX is often performed with arbitrary parameters that tend to produce aptamers with insufficient affinity and/or specificity. Having a better understanding of these basic principles could increase the likelihood of obtaining high-quality aptamers. Here, we have systematically investigated how altering the selection stringency in terms of target concentration─which is essentially the root source of selection pressure for aptamer isolation─affects the outcome of SELEX. By performing four separate trials of SELEX for the same small-molecule target, we experimentally prove that the use of excessively high target concentrations promotes enrichment of low-affinity binders while also suppressing the enrichment of high-affinity aptamers. These findings should be broadly applicable across SELEX methods, given that they share the same core operating principle, and will be crucial for guiding selections to obtain high-quality aptamers in the future.