Differential Inhibitory Activities and Stabilisation of DNA Aptamers against the SARS Coronavirus Helicase
Ka To Shum, Julian A. Tanner
The helicase from severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS‐CoV) possesses NTPase, duplex RNA/DNA‐unwinding and RNA‐capping activities that are essential for viral replication and proliferation. Here, we have isolated DNA aptamers against the SARS‐CoV helicase from a combinatorial DNA library. These aptamers show two distinct classes of secondary structure, G‐quadruplex and non‐G‐quadruplex, as shown by circular dichroism and gel electrophoresis. All of the aptamers that were selected stimulated ATPase activity of the SARS‐CoV helicase with low‐nanomolar apparent Km values. Intriguingly, only the non‐G‐quadruplex aptamers showed specific inhibition of helicase activities, whereas the G‐quadruplex aptamers did not inhibit helicase activities. The non‐G‐quadruplex aptamer with the strongest inhibitory potency was modified at the 3′‐end with biotin or inverted thymidine, and the modification increased its stability in serum, particularly for the inverted thymidine modification. Structural diversity in selection coupled to post‐selection stabilisation has provided new insights into the aptamers that were selected for a helicase target. These aptamers are being further developed to inhibit SARS‐CoV replication.
Circular dichroism, Secondary structure, G-quadruplex structure, DNA structure, Chemical stability, Biochemistry