Multiplexed Microcolumn-Based Process for Efficient Selection of RNA Aptamers
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We describe a reusable microcolumn and process for the efficient discovery of nucleic acid aptamers for multiple target molecules. The design of our device requires only microliter volumes of affinity chromatography resin-a condition that maximizes the enrichment of target-binding sequences over non-target-binding (i.e., background) sequences. Furthermore, the modular design of the device accommodates a multiplex aptamer selection protocol. We optimized the selection process performance using microcolumns filled with green fluorescent protein (GFP)-immobilized resin and monitoring, over a wide range of experimental conditions, the enrichment of a known GFP-binding RNA aptamer (GFPapt) against a random RNA aptamer library. We validated the multiplex approach by monitoring the enrichment of GFPapt in de novo selection experiments with GFP and other protein preparations. After only three rounds of selection, the cumulative GFPapt enrichment on the GFP-loaded resin was greater than 10(8) with no enrichment for the other nonspecific targets. We used this optimized protocol to perform a multiplex selection to two human heat shock factor (hHSF) proteins, hHSF1 and hHSF2. High-throughput sequencing was used to identify aptamers for each protein that were preferentially enriched in just three selection rounds, which were confirmed and isolated after five rounds. Gel-shift and fluorescence polarization assays showed that each aptamer binds with high-affinity (KD < 20 nM) to the respective targets. The combination of our microcolumns with a multiplex approach and high-throughput sequencing enables the selection of aptamers to multiple targets in a high-throughput and efficient manner.
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