G-quadruplexes (G4s) are nucleic acid structure motifs that are of significance in chemistry and biology. The function of G4s is often governed by their interaction with G4-binding proteins. Few categories of G4-specific tools have been developed to inhibit G4-protein interactions; however, until now there is no aptamer tool being developed to do so. Herein, we present a novel L-RNA aptamer that can generally bind to D-RNA G-quadruplex (rG4) structure, and interfere with rG4-protein interaction. Using hTERC rG4 as the target for in vitro selection, we report the shortest L-aptamer being developed so far, with only 25 nucleotides. Notably, this new aptamer, L-Apt.4-1c, adopts a stem-loop structure with the loop folding into an rG4 motif with two G-quartet, demonstrates preferential binding toward rG4s over non-G4s and DNA G-quadruplexes (dG4s), and suppresses hTERC rG4-nucleolin interactions. We also show that inhibition of rG4-protein interaction using L-RNA aptamer L-Apt.4-1c is comparable to or better than G4-specific ligands such as carboxypyridostatin and QUMA-1 respectively, highlighting that our approach and findings expand the current G4 toolbox, and open a new avenue for diverse applications.
© The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.