Adaptive Recognition by Nucleic Acid Aptamers

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Science  04 Feb 2000:
Vol. 287, Issue 5454, pp. 820-825
DOI: 10.1126/science.287.5454.820

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Nucleic acid molecules play crucial roles in diverse biological processes including the storage, transport, processing, and expression of the genetic information. Nucleic acid aptamers are selected in vitro from libraries containing random sequences of up to a few hundred nucleotides. Selection is based on the ability to bind ligand molecules with high affinity and specificity. Three-dimensional structures have been determined at high resolution for a number of aptamers in complex with their cognate ligands. Structures of aptamer complexes reveal the key molecular interactions conferring specificity to the aptamer-ligand association, including the precise stacking of flat moieties, specific hydrogen bonding, and molecular shape complementarity. These basic principles of discriminatory molecular interactions in aptamer complexes parallel recognition events central to many cellular processes involving nucleic acids.

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