Accelerated Discovery of Potent Bioactive anti-TNFα Aptamers by Microbead-Assisted Capillary Electrophoresis (MACE)-SELEX

Chembiochem. 2021 Dec 2;22(23):3341-3347. doi: 10.1002/cbic.202100478. Epub 2021 Oct 11.


Dysregulation of tumor necrosis factor-α (TNFα), a pro-inflammatory cytokine, causes several diseases, making it an important therapeutic target. Here, we identified a novel DNA aptamer against human TNFα using in vitro selection, which included a high exclusion pressure process against non-binding and weak binders through microbead-assisted capillary electrophoresis (MACE) in only three rounds. Among the 15 most enriched aptamers, Apt14 exhibited the highest inhibitory activity for the interaction between TNFα and its cognate receptor in mouse L929 cells. For further improving the bioactivity of the aptamer, dimerization programed by hybridization was evaluated, resulting in the Apt14 dimer exhibited a twofold higher binding affinity and stronger inhibition compared to the monomer counterpart. Rapid identification of bioactive aptamers using MACE in combination with facile dimerization by hybridization accelerates the discovery of novel bioactive aptamers, paving the way toward replacing current monoclonal antibody therapy with the less expensive and non-immunogenic aptamer therapy.

Keywords: TNF-alpha; aptamers; capillary electrophoresis; dimerization; in vitro selection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aptamers, Nucleotide / chemical synthesis
  • Aptamers, Nucleotide / chemistry
  • Aptamers, Nucleotide / pharmacology*
  • Cell Line
  • Drug Discovery*
  • Electrophoresis, Capillary
  • Mice
  • SELEX Aptamer Technique*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism


  • Aptamers, Nucleotide
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha