In vitro selection of l-DNA aptamers that bind a structured d-RNA molecule Academic Article uri icon


  • The development of structure-specific RNA binding reagents remains a central challenge in RNA biochemistry and drug discovery. Previously, we showed in vitro selection techniques could be used to evolve l-RNA aptamers that bind tightly to structured d-RNAs. However, whether similar RNA-binding properties can be achieved using aptamers composed of l-DNA, which has several practical advantages compared to l-RNA, remains unknown. Here, we report the discovery and characterization of the first l-DNA aptamers against a structured RNA molecule, precursor microRNA-155, thereby establishing the capacity of DNA and RNA molecules of the opposite handedness to form tight and specific 'cross-chiral' interactions with each other. l-DNA aptamers bind pre-miR-155 with low nanomolar affinity and high selectivity despite the inability of l-DNA to interact with native d-RNA via Watson-Crick base pairing. Furthermore, l-DNA aptamers inhibit Dicer-mediated processing of pre-miRNA-155. The sequence and structure of l-DNA aptamers are distinct from previously reported l-RNA aptamers against pre-miR-155, indicating that l-DNA and l-RNA interact with the same RNA sequence through unique modes of recognition. Overall, this work demonstrates that l-DNA may be pursued as an alternative to l-RNA for the generation of RNA-binding aptamers, providing a robust and practical approach for targeting structured RNAs.

altmetric score

  • 2.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Dey, S., & Sczepanski, J. T.

citation count

  • 4

complete list of authors

  • Dey, Sougata||Sczepanski, Jonathan T

publication date

  • January 2020