Identification and characterization of an agonistic aptamer against the T cell costimulatory receptor, OX40

Nucleic Acid Ther. 2013 Feb;23(1):35-43. doi: 10.1089/nat.2012.0388. Epub 2012 Oct 31.


Induction of an effective immune response that can target and eliminate malignant cells or virus-infected cells requires the stimulation of antigen-specific effector T cells. A productive and long-lasting memory response requires 2 signals: a specific signal provided by antigen recognition through engagement of the T cell receptor and a secondary signal via engagement of costimulatory molecules (such as OX40) on these newly activated T cells. The OX40-OX40-ligand interaction is critical for the generation of productive effector and memory T cell functions. Thus agonistic antibodies that stimulate OX40 on activated T cells have been used as adjuvants to augment immune responses. We previously demonstrated that an aptamer modified to stimulate murine OX40 enhanced vaccine-mediated immune responses in a murine melanoma model. In this study, we describe the development of an agonistic aptamer that targets human OX40 (hOX40). This hOX40 aptamer was isolated using systematic evolution of ligands by exponential enrichment and binds the target purified protein with high affinity [dissociation constants (K(d))<10 nM]. Moreover, the hOX40 aptamer-streptavidin complex has an apparent binding affinity of ~50 nM for hOX40 on activated T cells as determined by flow cytometry and specifically binds activated human T cells. A multivalent version of the aptamer, but not a mutant version of the aptamer, was able to stimulate OX40 on T cells and enhance cell proliferation and interferon-gamma production. Future studies will assess the therapeutic potential of hOX40 aptamers for ex vivo stimulation of antigen specific T cells in conjunction with dendritic cell-based vaccines for adoptive cellular therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / pharmacology
  • Aptamers, Nucleotide / genetics
  • Aptamers, Nucleotide / immunology
  • Aptamers, Nucleotide / pharmacology*
  • Base Sequence
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / drug effects
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy, Adoptive
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • OX40 Ligand / metabolism
  • Receptors, OX40 / agonists*
  • Receptors, OX40 / genetics
  • Receptors, OX40 / metabolism
  • Recombinant Proteins / agonists
  • Recombinant Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism
  • SELEX Aptamer Technique
  • Signal Transduction


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Aptamers, Nucleotide
  • OX40 Ligand
  • Receptors, OX40
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • TNFRSF4 protein, human
  • TNFSF4 protein, human