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In Molecular diversity

Aptamers can be regarded as efficient substitutes for monoclonal antibodies in many diagnostic and therapeutic applications. Due to the tedious and prohibitive nature of SELEX (systematic evolution of ligands by exponential enrichment), the in silico methods have been developed to improve the enrichment processes rate. However, the majority of these methods did not show any effort in designing novel aptamers. Moreover, some target proteins may have not any binding RNA candidates in nature and a reductive mechanism is needed to generate novel aptamer pools among enormous possible combinations of nucleotide acids to be examined in vitro. We have applied a genetic algorithm (GA) with an embedded binding predictor fitness function to in silico design of RNA aptamers. As a case study of this research, all steps were accomplished to generate an aptamer pool against aminopeptidase N (CD13) biomarker. First, the model was developed based on sequential and structural features of known RNA-protein complexes. Then, utilizing RNA sequences involved in complexes with positive prediction results, as the first-generation, novel aptamers were designed and top-ranked sequences were selected. A 76-mer aptamer was identified with the highest fitness value with a 3 to 6 time higher score than parent oligonucleotides. The reliability of obtained sequences was confirmed utilizing docking and molecular dynamic simulation. The proposed method provides an important simplified contribution to the oligonucleotide-aptamer design process. Also, it can be an underlying ground to design novel aptamers against a wide range of biomarkers.

Torkamanian-Afshar Mahsa, Nematzadeh Sajjad, Tabarzad Maryam, Najafi Ali, Lanjanian Hossein, Masoudi-Nejad Ali


Aminopeptidase N (CD13), Aptamer, Docking, Genetic algorithm (GA), Molecular dynamic simulation