What is an Aptamer?
Aptamers are single-stranded nucleic acids with defined and stable tertiary structures that bind with high affinity and specificity to target molecules. Aptamers adopt a wide variety of structural motifs, such as stems, hairpins, bulges, pseudoknots, and G-quadruplexes, recognizing with their target via diverse interactions such as hydrogen bonds, hydrophobic interactions, van der Waals interactions, aromatic stacking, and so on.
Their affinity can be compared to antibodies, but the cost of their production is more stable and affordable compared to antibodies. These two differences are the key points in our project.
Although aptamers have the potential of substitutes antibodies and being integrated through a multitude of biosensors, there are a little number of teams that have been working with them. We are going to deeply explain it later, but the major cause is the cost, both in time and money, of the protocols that the aptamer discovery process involves.
For the first time in iGEM, we present an affordable, simple and fast aptamer discovery process.
If you want to know more about the aptamer obtention steps, check this links:
Find a binding aptamer with our target protein.
Test the affinity of the aptamers we have selected.
Try to improve the affinity between the aptamers and the target.
We would like to express our gratitude to Victor González and Mª Elena Martin Palma for their guidance through the SELEX experiment, and Mª Teresa Villalba Díaz for donating the protein ( OLE-E1) that we needed to perform our experiment. We also want to thank them for their kinds word and encouragement.