Open Access

The selection of aptamers specific for membrane molecular targets

Cellular & Molecular Biology LettersAn International Journal201016:23

DOI: 10.2478/s11658-010-0023-3

Received: 20 December 2009

Accepted: 14 June 2010

Published: 28 June 2010


A growing number of RNA aptamers have been selected experimentally using the SELEX combinatorial approach, and these aptamers have several advantages over monoclonal protein antibodies or peptides with respect to their applications in medicine and nanobiotechnology. Relatively few successful selections have been reported for membrane molecular targets, in contrast to the situation with non-membrane molecular targets. This review compares the procedures and techniques used in selections against membrane proteins and membrane lipids. In the case of membrane proteins, the selections were performed against soluble protein fragments, detergent-membrane protein mixed micelles, whole cells, vesicles derived from cellular membranes, and enveloped viruses. Liposomes were used as an experimental system for the selection of aptamers against membrane lipids. RNA structure-dependent aptamer binding for rafts in lipid vesicles was reported. Based on the selected aptamers against DOPC and the amino acid tryptophan, a specific passive membrane transporter composed of RNA was constructed. The determination of the selectivity of aptamers appears to be a crucial step in a selection, but has rarely been fully investigated. The selections, which use whole cells or vesicles derived from membranes, can yield aptamers not only against proteins but also against membrane lipids.

Key words

RNA SELEX Aptamers Membranes Membrane proteins Lipids Liposomes Rafts Membrane transporters