RNA Design

An old motif with new specificity

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Science  24 Feb 2017:
Vol. 355, Issue 6327, pp. 809-810
DOI: 10.1126/science.355.6327.809-b

RNA aptamers bind to small molecules and, in the context of adjacent regulatory domains, can control cellular processes. Synthetic RNA aptamers can be selected against a target, but it is difficult to integrate these artificial sensors into cells. Porter et al. started with scaffolds derived from two different riboswitches and a ribozyme that all contain a recurrent motif. They made libraries designed to maintain the structure, but with sufficient diversity to select sequences that would bind precursors of serotonin and dopamine. They obtained a diverse set of aptamers that selectively bind their target and can be coupled to a fluorophore binding domain for readout. The suite of aptamers could potentially be combinatorially coupled to communication modules to rapidly screen for sequences with a required activity.

Nat. Chem. Biol. 10.1038/NCHEMBIO.2278 (2017).

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