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Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2017, 18(5), 1023; doi:10.3390/ijms18051023

Unraveling Prion Protein Interactions with Aptamers and Other PrP-Binding Nucleic Acids

Faculty of Pharmacy, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Av. Carlos Chagas Filho 373, Bloco B, Subsolo, Sala 17, Rio de Janeiro, RJ 21941-902, Brazil
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Academic Editors: Julian Alexander Tanner, Andrew Kinghorn and Yee-Wai Cheung
Received: 8 March 2017 / Revised: 23 April 2017 / Accepted: 4 May 2017 / Published: 17 May 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Aptamers)
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Abstract

Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) are a group of neurodegenerative disorders that affect humans and other mammals. The etiologic agents common to these diseases are misfolded conformations of the prion protein (PrP). The molecular mechanisms that trigger the structural conversion of the normal cellular PrP (PrPC) into the pathogenic conformer (PrPSc) are still poorly understood. It is proposed that a molecular cofactor would act as a catalyst, lowering the activation energy of the conversion process, therefore favoring the transition of PrPC to PrPSc. Several in vitro studies have described physical interactions between PrP and different classes of molecules, which might play a role in either PrP physiology or pathology. Among these molecules, nucleic acids (NAs) are highlighted as potential PrP molecular partners. In this context, the SELEX (Systematic Evolution of Ligands by Exponential Enrichment) methodology has proven extremely valuable to investigate PrP–NA interactions, due to its ability to select small nucleic acids, also termed aptamers, that bind PrP with high affinity and specificity. Aptamers are single-stranded DNA or RNA oligonucleotides that can be folded into a wide range of structures (from harpins to G-quadruplexes). They are selected from a nucleic acid pool containing a large number (1014–1016) of random sequences of the same size (~20–100 bases). Aptamers stand out because of their potential ability to bind with different affinities to distinct conformations of the same protein target. Therefore, the identification of high-affinity and selective PrP ligands may aid the development of new therapies and diagnostic tools for TSEs. This review will focus on the selection of aptamers targeted against either full-length or truncated forms of PrP, discussing the implications that result from interactions of PrP with NAs, and their potential advances in the studies of prions. We will also provide a critical evaluation, assuming the advantages and drawbacks of the SELEX (Systematic Evolution of Ligands by Exponential Enrichment) technique in the general field of amyloidogenic proteins. View Full-Text
Keywords: prion protein; nucleic acids; SELEX (Systematic Evolution of Ligands by Exponential Enrichment); aptamers prion protein; nucleic acids; SELEX (Systematic Evolution of Ligands by Exponential Enrichment); aptamers
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Macedo, B.; Cordeiro, Y. Unraveling Prion Protein Interactions with Aptamers and Other PrP-Binding Nucleic Acids. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2017, 18, 1023.

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