Significant progress has been made in understanding the nature of molecular interactions on the cell membrane. To decipher such interactions, molecular scaffolds can be engineered as a tool to modulate these events as they occur on the cell membrane. To guarantee reliability, scaffolds that function as modulators of cell membrane events must be coupled to a targeting moiety with superior chemical versatility. In this regard, nucleic acid aptamers are a suitable class of targeting moieties. Aptamers are inherently chemical in nature, allowing extensive site-specific chemical modification to engineer sensing molecules. Aptamers can be easily selected using a simple laboratory-based in vitro evolution method enabling the design and development of aptamer-based functional molecular scaffolds against wide range of cell surface molecules. This article reviews the application of aptamers as monitors and modulators of molecular interactions on the mammalian cell surface with the aim of increasing our understanding of cell-surface receptor response to external stimuli. The information gained from these types of studies could eventually prove useful in engineering improved medical diagnostics and therapeutics.
Keywords: aptamers; diagnostics; molecular modulators; nanorobots; nanosensors; therapeutics.