[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Posttranslational modifications on proteins can serve as useful biomarkers for disease. However, their discovery and detection in biological fluids is challenging. Aptamers are oligonucleotide ligands that demonstrate high affinity toward their target proteins and can discriminate closely related proteins with superb specificity. Previously, we generated a cyclophilin B aptamer (M9-5) that could discriminate sera from pancreatic cancer patients and healthy volunteers with high specificity and sensitivity. In our present work we further characterize the aptamer and the target protein, cyclophilin B, and demonstrate that the aptamer could discriminate between cyclophilin B expressed in human cells versus bacteria. Using mass-spectrometric analysis, we discovered post-translational modifications on cyclophilin B that might be responsible for the M9-5 selectivity. The ability to distinguish between forms of the same protein with differing post-translational modifications is an important advantage of aptamers as tools for identification and detection of biomarkers.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Exposure of the plasma protein factor XII to an anionic surface generates activated factor XII that not only triggers the intrinsic pathway of blood coagulation through the activation of factor XI, but also mediates various vascular responses through activation of the plasma contact system. While deficiencies of factor XII are not associated with excessive bleeding, thrombosis models in factor deficient animals have suggested that this protein contributes to stable thrombus formation. Therefore, factor XII has emerged as an attractive therapeutic target to treat or prevent pathological thrombosis formation without increasing the risk for hemorrhage. OBJECTIVES: Utilizing an in vitro directed evolution and chemical biology approach, we sought to isolate a nuclease resistant RNA aptamer that binds specifically to factor XII and directly inhibits factor XII coagulant function. METHODS AND RESULTS: Herein, we describe the isolation and characterization of a high affinity RNA aptamer targeting factor XII/XIIa that dose dependently prolongs fibrin clot formation and thrombin generation in clinical coagulation assays. This aptamer functions as a potent anticoagulant by inhibiting the autoactivation of factor XII, as well as inhibiting intrinsic pathway activation (factor XI activation). However, the aptamer does not affect the factor XIIa-mediated activation of the proinflammatory kallikrein-kinin system (plasma kallikrein activation). CONCLUSIONS: We have generated a specific and potent factor XII/XIIa aptamer anticoagulant that offers targeted inhibition of discrete macromolecular interactions involved in the activation of the intrinsic pathway of blood coagulation. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis 05/2013; · 6.08 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Toll-like receptor (TLR) family members, 3, 7 and 9 are key components in initiation and progression of autoimmune disorders such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). These TLRs are often referred to as nucleic acid-sensing TLRs based on their ability to recognize DNAs or RNAs produced by pathogens or damaged cells. During autoimmune disease progression these receptors recognize self nucleic acids as well as self nucleic acid-containing complexes and contribute to inflammatory cytokine production and subsequent enhancement of serum autoantibody levels. We have recently discovered that nucleic-acid scavenging polymers (NASPs) can neutralize the proinflammatory effects of nucleic acids. Here, we begin to explore what effects such NASPs have on normal immune function. We show that such NASPs can inhibit TLR activation without affecting nucleic acid-independent T cell activation. Moreover, we observe that stimulation of immune cells by encapsulated nucleic acids, such as those found in viral particles, is unaffected by NASPs. Thus NASPs only limit the activation of the immune system by accessible extra-cellular nucleic acid and do not engender non-specific immune suppression. These important findings suggest that NASPs represent a new approach toward anti-inflammatory drug development as these agents can potentially be utilized to block overt autoimmune disorders and inflammation while allowing normal immune responses to occur.
PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(7):e69413. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Induction of an effective immune response that can target and eliminate malignant cells or virus-infected cells requires the stimulation of antigen-specific effector T cells. A productive and long-lasting memory response requires 2 signals: a specific signal provided by antigen recognition through engagement of the T cell receptor and a secondary signal via engagement of costimulatory molecules (such as OX40) on these newly activated T cells. The OX40-OX40-ligand interaction is critical for the generation of productive effector and memory T cell functions. Thus agonistic antibodies that stimulate OX40 on activated T cells have been used as adjuvants to augment immune responses. We previously demonstrated that an aptamer modified to stimulate murine OX40 enhanced vaccine-mediated immune responses in a murine melanoma model. In this study, we describe the development of an agonistic aptamer that targets human OX40 (hOX40). This hOX40 aptamer was isolated using systematic evolution of ligands by exponential enrichment and binds the target purified protein with high affinity [dissociation constants (K(d))<10 nM]. Moreover, the hOX40 aptamer-streptavidin complex has an apparent binding affinity of ∼50 nM for hOX40 on activated T cells as determined by flow cytometry and specifically binds activated human T cells. A multivalent version of the aptamer, but not a mutant version of the aptamer, was able to stimulate OX40 on T cells and enhance cell proliferation and interferon-gamma production. Future studies will assess the therapeutic potential of hOX40 aptamers for ex vivo stimulation of antigen specific T cells in conjunction with dendritic cell-based vaccines for adoptive cellular therapy.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The anticoagulant properties of a novel RNA aptamer that binds FIXa depend collectively on the intensity of surface contact activation of human blood plasma, aptamer concentration, and its binding affinity for FIXa. Accordingly, anticoagulation efficiency of plasma containing any particular aptamer concentration is low when coagulation is strongly activated by hydrophilic surfaces compared to the anticoagulation efficiency in plasma that is weakly activated by hydrophobic surfaces. Anticoagulation efficiency is lower at hypothermic temperatures possibly because aptamer-FIXa binding decreases with decreasing temperatures. Experimental results demonstrating these trends are qualitatively interpreted in the context of a previously established model of anticoagulation efficiency of thrombin-binding DNA aptamers that exhibit anticoagulation properties similar to the FIXa aptamer. In principle, FIXa aptamer anticoagulants should be more efficient and therefore more clinically useful than thrombin-binding aptamers because aptamer binding to FIXa competes only with FX that is at much lower blood concentration than fibrinogen (FI) that competes with thrombin-binding aptamers. Our findings may have translatable relevance in the application of aptamer anticoagulants for clinical conditions in which blood is in direct contact with non-biological surfaces such as those encountered in cardiopulmonary bypass circuits.
Journal of Thrombosis and Thrombolysis 10/2012; · 1.99 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Gemcitabine is a nucleoside analog that is currently the best available single-agent chemotherapeutic drug for pancreatic cancer. However, efficacy is limited by our inability to deliver sufficient active metabolite into cancer cells without toxic effects on normal tissues. Targeted delivery of gemcitabine into cancer cells could maximize effectiveness and concurrently minimize toxic side effects by reducing uptake into normal cells. Most pancreatic cancers overexpress epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), a trans-membrane receptor tyrosine kinase. We utilized a nuclease resistant RNA aptamer that binds and is internalized by EGFR on pancreatic cancer cells to deliver gemcitabine-containing polymers into EGFR-expressing cells and inhibit cell proliferation in vitro. This approach to cell type–specific therapy can be adapted to other targets and to other types of therapeutic cargo.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Introduction
Toll-like receptors (TLRs) play a critical role in innate and adaptive immune responses by responding to pathogenic nucleic acids. Moreover, they have recently been shown to play a role in the pathogenesis of autoimmune disorders such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) due to their ability to recognize self-antigens. There has been growing evidence suggesting that blocking of nucleic acid-sending TLRs such as TLR7 and 9 results in ameliorated disease. Although effective in blocking autoimmune disease progression, TLR inhibitors are not ideal given that they interfere with normal responses to pathogens. Our goal is to create compounds that bind nucleic acids prior to their entry into the cell and engagement of TLRs. Here we determined the role of nucleic acid-binding cationic polymers in neutralizing the proinflammatory effects of nucleic acids on a variety of immune cells implicated in autoimmune disease development.
B cells and dendritic cells (DCs) of wild type and lupus prone mice were exposed to TLR7 and 9 synthetic agonists. Supernatants were subsequently assessed for nucleic acid-driven proinflammatory cytokine release, plasma cell differentiation and antibody production. Cells were also assessed for their ability to respond to encapsulated viral particles in the presence of nucleic-acid binding cationic polymers.
Nucleic acid-binding polymers inhibit TLR activation and subsequent cytokine production by both dendritic cells (DCs) and B cells of wild type and lupus prone mice. They also block nucleic acid-driven plasma cell differentiation and antibody production. Additionally, they modulate co-stimulatory cell surface marker expression (CD80, CD86) in stimulated DCs and B cells. Stimulation of immune cells by encapsulated viral particles is unaffected in the presence of polymers.
These findings provide a new avenue in drug development as nucleic acid-binding agents can potentially be utilized to block overt autoimmune disorders while allowing normal immune responses to occur.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Development of effective, yet safe, antithrombotic agents has been challenging because such agents increase the propensity of patients to bleed. Recently, naturally occurring polyphosphates such as extracellular DNA, RNA, and inorganic polyphosphates have been shown to activate blood coagulation. In this report, we evaluate the anticoagulant and antithrombotic activity of nucleic acid-binding polymers in vitro and in vivo. Such polymers bind to DNA, RNA, and inorganic polyphosphate molecules with high affinity and inhibit RNA- and polyphosphate-induced clotting and the activation of the intrinsic pathway of coagulation in vitro. Moreover, [NH(2)(CH(2))(2)NH(2)](G = 3);dendri PAMAM(NH(2))(32) (PAMAM G-3) prevents thrombosis following carotid artery injury and pulmonary thromboembolism in mice without significantly increasing blood loss from surgically challenged animals. These studies indicate that nucleic acid-binding polymers are able to scavenge effectively prothrombotic nucleic acids and other polyphosphates in vivo and represent a new and potentially safer class of antithrombotic agents.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 07/2012; 109(32):12938-43. · 9.74 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To reduce the adverse effects of cancer therapies and increase their efficacy, new delivery agents that specifically target cancer cells are needed. We and others have shown that aptamers can selectively deliver therapeutic oligonucleotides to the endosome and cytoplasm of cancer cells that express a particular cell surface receptor. Identifying a single aptamer that can internalize into many different cancer cell-types would increase the utility of aptamer-mediated delivery of therapeutic agents. We investigated the ability of the nucleolin aptamer (AS1411) to internalize into multiple cancer cell types and observed that it internalizes into a wide variety of cancer cells and migrates to the nucleus. To determine if the aptamer could be utilized to deliver therapeutic oligonucleotides to modulate events in the nucleus, we evaluated the ability of the aptamer to deliver splice-switching oligonucleotides. We observed that aptamer-splice-switching oligonucleotide chimeras can alter splicing in the nuclei of treated cells and are effective at lower doses than the splice switching oligonucleotides alone. Our results suggest that aptamers can be utilized to deliver oligonucleotides to the nucleus of a wide variety of cancer cells to modulate nuclear events such as RNA splicing.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Most cases of pancreatic cancer are not diagnosed until they are no longer curable with surgery. Therefore, it is critical to develop a sensitive, preferably noninvasive, method for detecting the disease at an earlier stage. In order to identify biomarkers for pancreatic cancer, we devised an in vitro positive/negative selection strategy to identify RNA ligands (aptamers) that could detect structural differences between the secretomes of pancreatic cancer and non-cancerous cells. Using this molecular recognition approach, we identified an aptamer (M9-5) that differentially bound conditioned media from cancerous and non-cancerous human pancreatic cell lines. This aptamer further discriminated between the sera of pancreatic cancer patients and healthy volunteers with high sensitivity and specificity. We utilized biochemical purification methods and mass-spectrometric analysis to identify the M9-5 target as cyclophilin B (CypB). This molecular recognition-based strategy simultaneously identified CypB as a serum biomarker and generated a new reagent to recognize it in body fluids. Moreover, this approach should be generalizable to other diseases and complementary to traditional approaches that focus on differences in expression level between samples. Finally, we suggest that the aptamer we identified has the potential to serve as a tool for the early detection of pancreatic cancer.
The Journal of clinical investigation 04/2012; 122(5):1734-41. · 15.39 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The conversion of prothrombin to thrombin is one of two non-duplicated enzymatic reactions during coagulation. Thrombin has long been considered an optimal anticoagulant target because it plays a crucial role in fibrin clot formation by catalyzing the cleavage of fibrinogen, upstream coagulation cofactors and platelet receptors. Although a number of anti-thrombin therapeutics exist, it is challenging to use them clinically due to their propensity to induce bleeding. Previously, we isolated a modified RNA aptamer (R9D-14) that binds prothrombin with high affinity and is a potent anticoagulant in vitro.
We sought to explore the structure of R9D-14 and elucidate its anticoagulant mechanism(s). In addition to designing an optimized aptamer (RNA(R9D-14T)), we also explored whether complementary antidote oligonucleotides can rapidly modulate the optimized aptamer's anticoagulant activity.
RNA(R9D-14T) binds prothrombin and thrombin pro/exosite I with high affinity and inhibits both thrombin generation and thrombin exosite I-mediated activity (i.e. fibrin clot formation, feedback activity and platelet activation). RNA(R9D-14T) significantly prolongs the aPTT, PT and TCT clotting assays, and is a more potent inhibitor than the thrombin exosite I DNA aptamer ARC-183. Moreover, a complementary oligonucleotide antidote can rapidly (< 2 min) and durably (>2 h) reverse RNA(R9D-14T) anticoagulation in vitro.
Powerful anticoagulation, in conjunction with antidote reversibility, suggests that RNA(R9D-14T) may be ideal for clinical anticoagulation in settings that require rapid and robust anticoagulation, such as cardiopulmonary bypass, deep vein thrombosis, stroke or percutaneous coronary intervention.
Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis 03/2012; 10(5):870-80. · 6.08 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Aptamers, or nucleic acid ligands, have gained clinical interest over the past 20 years due to their unique characteristics, which are a combination of the best facets of small molecules and antibodies. The high binding affinity and specificity of aptamers allows for isolation of an artificial ligand for theoretically any therapeutic target of interest. Chemical manipulations of aptamers also allow for fine-tuning of their bioavailability, and antidote control greatly expands their clinical use. Here we review the various methods of antidote control of aptamer therapeutics--matched oligonucleotide antidotes and universal antidotes. We also describe the development, recent progress, and potential future therapeutic applications of these types of aptamer-antidote pairs.
Current pharmaceutical biotechnology 02/2012; 13(10):1924-34. · 3.40 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: An aptamer targeting factor IXa has been evaluated in animal models and several clinical studies as a potential antithombotic therapy. We elucidate the molecular mechanism by which this aptamer acts as an anticoagulant. The aptamer binds tightly to factor IXa and prolongs the clotting time of human plasma. The aptamer completely blocks factor IXa activation of factor X regardless of the presence of factor VIIIa. However, the aptamer does not completely block small synthetic substrate cleavage, although it does slow the rate of cleavage. These data are consistent with the aptamer binding to the catalytic domain of factor IXa in such a way as to block an extended substrate-binding site. Therefore, unlike small molecule inhibitors, aptamers appear to be able to bind surfaces surrounding an active site and thereby sterically interfere with enzyme activity. Thus, aptamers may be useful agents to probe and block substrate-binding sites outside of the active site of an enzyme.
Journal of Biological Chemistry 02/2012; 287(16):12779-86. · 4.65 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Antibodies to DNA (anti-DNA) are the serological hallmark of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and can mediate disease pathogenesis by the formation of immune complexes. Since blocking immune complex formation can attenuate disease manifestations, the effects of nucleic acid binding polymers (NABPs) on anti-DNA binding in vitro were investigated. The compounds tested included polyamidoamine dendrimer, 1,4-diaminobutane core, generation 3.0 (PAMAM-G3), hexadimethrine bromide, and a β-cylodextrin-containing polycation. As shown with plasma from patients with SLE, NABPs can inhibit anti-DNA antibody binding in ELISA assays. The inhibition was specific since the NABPs did not affect binding to tetanus toxoid or the Sm protein, another lupus autoantigen. Furthermore, the polymers could displace antibody from preformed complexes. Together, these results indicate that NABPs can inhibit the formation of immune complexes and may represent a new approach to treatment.
PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(7):e40862. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Subpopulations of cancer cells with stem cell-like characteristics, termed cancer stem cells, have been identified in a wide range of human cancers. Cancer stem cells are defined by their ability to self-renew as well as recapitulate the original heterogeneity of cancer cells in culture and in serial xenotransplants. Not only are cancer stem cells highly tumorigenic, but these cells are implicated in tumor resistance to conventional chemotherapy and radiotherapy, thus highlighting their significance as therapeutic targets. Considerable similarities have been found between cancer stem cells and normal stem cells on their dependence on certain signaling pathways. More specifically, the core stem cell signaling pathways, such as the Wnt, Notch and Hedgehog pathways, also critically regulate the self-renewal and survival of cancer stem cells. While the oncogenic functions of Notch pathway have been well documented, its role in cancer stem cells is just emerging. In this chapter, we will discuss recent advances in cancer stem cell research and highlight the therapeutic potential of targeting Notch in cancer stem cells.
Advances in experimental medicine and biology 01/2012; 727:174-85. · 1.83 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The serine protease inhibitor (serpin) plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) is associated with the pathophysiology of several diseases, including cancer and cardiovascular disease. The extracellular matrix protein vitronectin increases at sites of vessel injury and is also present in fibrin clots. Integrins present on the cell surface bind to vitronectin and anchor the cell to the extracellular matrix. However, the binding of PAI-1 to vitronectin prevents this interaction, thereby decreasing both cell adhesion and migration. We previously developed PAI-1-specific RNA aptamers that bind to (or in the vicinity of) the vitronectin binding site of PAI-1. These aptamers prevented cancer cells from detaching from vitronectin in the presence of PAI-1, resulting in an increase in cell adhesion. In the current study, we used in vitro assays to investigate the effects that these aptamers have on human aortic smooth muscle cell (HASMC) and human umbilical vein endothelial cell (HUVEC) migration, adhesion, and proliferation. The PAI-1-specific aptamers (SM20 and WT15) increased attachment of HASMCs and HUVECs to vitronectin in the presence of PAI-1 in a dose-dependent manner. Whereas PAI-1 significantly inhibited cell migration through its interaction with vitronectin, both SM20 and WT15 restored cell migration. The PAI-1 vitronectin binding mutant (PAI-1AK) did not facilitate cell detachment or have an effect on cell migration. The effect on cell proliferation was minimal. Additionally, both SM20 and WT15 promoted tube formation on matrigel that was supplemented with vitronectin, thereby reversing the PAI-1's inhibition of tube formation. Collectively, results from this study show that SM20 and WT15 bind to the PAI-1's vitronectin binding site and interfere with its effect on cell migration, adhesion, and tube formation. By promoting smooth muscle and endothelial cell migration, these aptamers can potentially eliminate the adverse effects of elevated PAI-1 levels in the pathogenesis of vascular disease.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Millions of individuals are prescribed platelet inhibitors, such as aspirin and clopidogrel, to reduce their risk of thrombosis-related clinical events. Unfortunately many platelet inhibitors are contraindicated in surgical settings because of their inherent bleeding risk complicating the treatment of patients who require surgery. We describe the development of a potent antiplatelet agent, an RNA aptamer-termed Ch-9.14-T10 that binds von Willebrand factor (VWF) with high affinity and inhibits thrombosis in a murine carotid artery damage model. As expected, when this potent antiplatelet agent is administered, it greatly increases bleeding from animals that are surgically challenged. To improve this antiplatelet agent's safety profile, we describe the generation of antidotes that can rapidly reverse the activity of Ch-9.14-T10 and limit blood loss from surgically challenged animals. Our work represents the first antidote controllable antiplatelet agent, which could conceivably lead to improved medical management of patients requiring antiplatelet medication who also need surgery.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Control over thrombin activity is much desired to regulate blood clotting in surgical and therapeutic situations. Thrombin-binding RNA and DNA aptamers have been used to inhibit thrombin activity and thus the coagulation cascade. Soluble DNA aptamers, as well as two different aptamers tethered by a flexible single-strand linker, have been shown to possess anticoagulant activity. Here, we link multiple aptamers at programmed positions on DNA nanostructures to optimize spacing and orientation of the aptamers and thereby to maximize anticoagulant activity in functional assays. By judicious engineering of the DNA nanostructures, we have created a novel, functional DNA nanostructure, which is a multi-aptamer inhibitor with activity eightfold higher than free aptamer. Reversal of the thrombin inhibition was also achieved by the use of single-stranded DNA antidotes, thus enabling significant control over blood coagulation. FROM THE CLINICAL EDITOR: Thrombin inhibition via DNA aptamers has recently become a possibility. In this study, thrombin-binding DNA aptamers were further optimized by nanoscale organization on DNA nanostructures. The authors have created a novel, functional DNA nanostructure, which is a multi-aptamer inhibitor with activity eightfold higher than that of free aptamer. Reversal of thrombin inhibition was also achieved by single-stranded DNA antidotes, enabling significant control over the coagulation pathway.
Nanomedicine: nanotechnology, biology, and medicine 08/2011; 8(5):673-81. · 6.93 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Dead and dying cells release nucleic acids. These extracellular RNAs and DNAs can be taken up by inflammatory cells and activate multiple nucleic acid-sensing toll-like receptors (TLR3, 7, 8, and 9). The inappropriate activation of these TLRs can engender a variety of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The redundancy of the TLR family encouraged us to seek materials that can neutralize the proinflammatory effects of any nucleic acid regardless of its sequence, structure or chemistry. Herein we demonstrate that certain nucleic acid-binding polymers can inhibit activation of all nucleic acid-sensing TLRs irrespective of whether they recognize ssRNA, dsRNA or hypomethylated DNA. Furthermore, systemic administration of such polymers can prevent fatal liver injury engendered by proinflammatory nucleic acids in an acute toxic shock model in mice. Therefore these polymers represent a novel class of anti-inflammatory agent that can act as molecular scavengers to neutralize the proinflammatory effects of various nucleic acids.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 08/2011; 108(34):14055-60. · 9.74 Impact Factor