Gremlin-1, a highly conserved glycosylated and phosphorylated secretory protein, plays important roles in diverse biological processes including early embryonic development, fibrosis, tumorigenesis, and renal pathophysiology. Aptamers, which are RNA or DNA single-stranded oligonucleotides capable of binding specifically to different targets ranging from small organics to whole cells, have potential applications in targeted imaging, diagnosis and therapy. In this study, we obtained a DNA aptamer against Gremlin-1 (G-ap49) using in vitro Systematic Evolution of Ligands by Exponential Enrichment (SELEX). Binding assay and dot-blot showed that G-ap49 had high affinity for Gremlin-1. Further experiments indicated that G-ap49 was quite stable in a cell culture system and could be used in South-Western blot analysis, enzyme-linked aptamer sorbent assay (ELASA), and aptamer-based cytochemistry and histochemistry staining to detect Gremlin-1. Moreover, our study demonstrated that G-ap49 is capable of revealing the subcellular localization of Gremlin-1. These data indicate that G-ap49 can be used as an alternative to antibodies in detecting Gremlin-1.
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