Binding and Structural Properties of DNA Aptamers with VEGF-A-Mimic Activity

Mol Ther Nucleic Acids. 2020 Mar 6:19:1145-1152. doi: 10.1016/j.omtn.2019.12.034. Epub 2020 Jan 14.


Vascular endothelial growth factors (VEGFs) are hypoxia-inducible secreted proteins to promote angiogenesis, in which VEGF-A is an important molecule that binds and activates VEGF receptor-1 (VEGFR-1) and VEGFR-2. In this study, two DNA aptamers, Apt01 and Apt02, were successfully isolated by alternating consecutive systematic evolution of ligands by exponential enrichment (SELEX) against VEGFR-1 and -2 using deep sequencing analysis in an early selection round. Their binding affinities for VEGFR-2 were lower than that of VEGFR-1, which is similar to that of VEGF-A. Structural analyses with the measurements of circular dichroism spectra and ultraviolet melting curve showed that Apt01 possessed the stem-loop structure in the molecule, whereas Apt02 formed G-quadruplex structures. In addition, Apt02 accelerated a tube formation of human umbilical vein endothelial cells faster than Apt01, which was affected by difference of binding affinity and nuclease resistance due to G-quadruplex structures. These results demonstrated that Apt02 might have a potential to function as an alternative to VEGF-A.

Keywords: G-quadruplex; VEGF; VEGF receptor; angiogenesis; aptamer; vascular endothelial growth factor.