A virally-encoded oncoprotein (E7 from human papillomavirus 16, involved in the initiation of cell transformation) was the target for RNA aptamer development by the process of systematic evolution of ligands by exponential enrichment (SELEX). A number of aptamers were identified, one of which was shown to inhibit the interaction between E7 and its major binding partner, pRb. Aptamers with very similar sequences (more than 92% similarity in the random regions) did not share this activity. This study demonstrates the potential of aptamers to be highly specific, with small differences in aptamer sequence having profound effects on function.
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