Selection of a Suppressor Mutation That Restores Affinity of an Oligonucleotide Inhibitor for Thrombin Using in Vitro Genetics
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The thrombin aptamer is a single-stranded DNA of 15 nucleotides that was identified by the selection of thrombin-binding molecules from a large combinatorial library of oligonucleotides. This prototype aptamer of thrombin has a unique double G-tetrad structure capable of inhibiting thrombin at nanomolar concentrations through binding to a specific region within thrombin exosite I. Substitution of arginine 70 in thrombin exosite I with glutamic acid effectively eliminated binding of the prototype thrombin aptamer. In contrast, aptamers selected against R70E thrombin were able to bind and inhibit both wild-type and R70E thrombins, and displayed potassium-independent inhibition. Aptamers selected against R70-E thrombin bound to sites identical or overlapping with that of the prototype thrombin aptamer. These aptamers retained the potential to form double G-tetrad structures; however, these structures would be destabilized by a T-->A substitution, disrupting the T4-T13 base pairing found in the prototype. This destabilization appeared to be partially compensated by newly recruited structural elements. Thus, selection against R70E thrombin did not lead to aptamers that bound to alternative sites, but instead to ssDNA structures with a suppressor mutation that accommodated the mutation in thrombin within a double G-tetrad context. These results provide insight into the aptamer-thrombin interaction and suggest that the binding site for the prototype is the dominant aptamorigenic site on thrombin.
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