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  • Chandola, Chetan; Kalme, Sheetal; Casteleijn, Marco G.; Urtti, Arto; Neerathilingam, Muniasamy (2016)
    Aptamers are small, single-stranded oligonucleotides (DNA or RNA) that bind to their target with high specificity and affinity. Although aptamers are analogous to antibodies for a wide range of target recognition and variety of applications, they have significant advantages over antibodies. Since aptamers have recently emerged as a class of biomolecules with an application in a wide array of fields, we need to summarize the latest developments herein. In this review we will discuss about the latest developments in using aptamers in diagnostics, drug delivery and imaging. We begin with diagnostics, discussing the application of aptamers for the detection of infective agents itself, antigens/toxins (bacteria), biomarkers (cancer), or a combination. The ease of conjugation and labelling of aptamers makes them a potential tool for diagnostics. Also, due to the reduced off-target effects of aptamers, their use as a potential drug delivery tool is emerging rapidly. Hence, we discuss their use in targeted delivery in conjugation with siRNAs, nanoparticles, liposomes, drugs and antibodies. Finally, we discuss about the conjugation strategies applicable for RNA and DNA aptamers for imaging. Their stability and self-assembly after heating makes them superior over protein-based binding molecules in terms of labelling and conjugation strategies.
  • Das, Pratyush Kumar; Puusepp, Laura; Varghese, Finny S.; Utt, Age; Ahola, Tero; Kananovich, Dzmitry G.; Lopp, Margus; Merits, Andres; Karelson, Mati (2016)
    Chikungunya virus (CHIKV; genus Alphavirus) is the causative agent of chikungunya fever. CHIKV replication can be inhibited by some broad-spectrum antiviral compounds; in contrast, there is very little information about compounds specifically inhibiting the enzymatic activities of CHIKV replication proteins. These proteins are translated in the form of a nonstructural (ns) P1234 polyprotein precursor from the CHIKV positive-strand RNA genome. Active forms of replicase enzymes are generated using the autoproteolytic activity of nsP2. The available three-dimensional (3D) structure of nsP2 protease has made it a target for in silico drug design; however, there is thus far little evidence that the designed compounds indeed inhibit the protease activity of nsP2 and/or suppress CHIKV replication. In this study, a set of 12 compounds, predicted to interact with the active center of nsP2 protease, was designed using target-based modeling. The majority of these compounds were shown to inhibit the ability of nsP2 to process recombinant protein and synthetic peptide substrates. Furthermore, all compounds found to be active in these cell-free assays also suppressed CHIKV replication in cell culture, the 50% effective concentration (EC50) of the most potent inhibitor being similar to 1.5 mu M. Analysis of stereoisomers of one compound revealed that inhibition of both the nsP2 protease activity and CHIKV replication depended on the conformation of the inhibitor. Combining the data obtained from different assays also indicates that some of the analyzed compounds may suppress CHIKV replication using more than one mechanism.
  • Wang, Linping; Saarela, Jani; Poque, Sylvain; Valkonen, Jari P. T. (2020)
    The class 1 ribonuclease III (RNase III) encoded by Sweet potato chlorotic stunt virus (CSR3) suppresses RNA silencing in plant cells and thereby counters the host antiviral response by cleaving host small interfering RNAs, which are indispensable components of the plant RNA interference (RNAi) pathway. The synergy between sweet potato chlorotic stunt virus and sweet potato feathery mottle virus can reduce crop yields by 90%. Inhibitors of CSR3 might prove efficacious to counter this viral threat, yet no screen has been carried out to identify such inhibitors. Here, we report a novel high-throughput screening (HTS) assay based on fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) for identifying inhibitors of CSR3. For monitoring CSR3 activity via HTS, we used a small interfering RNA substrate that was labelled with a FRET-compatible dye. The optimized HTS assay yielded 109 potential inhibitors of CSR3 out of 6,620 compounds tested from different small-molecule libraries. The three best inhibitor candidates were validated with a dose-response assay. In addition, a parallel screen of the selected candidates was carried out for a similar class 1 RNase III enzyme from Escherichia coli (EcR3), and this screen yielded a different set of inhibitors. Thus, our results show that the CSR3 and EcR3 enzymes were inhibited by distinct types of molecules, indicating that this HTS assay could be widely applied in drug discovery of class 1 RNase III enzymes.
  • Javanainen, Matti; Martinez-Seara, Hector; Vattulainen, Ilpo (2017)
    The coarse-grained Martini model is employed extensively to study membrane protein oligomerization. While this approach is exceptionally promising given its computational efficiency, it is alarming that a significant fraction of these studies demonstrate unrealistic protein clusters, whose formation is essentially an irreversible process. This suggests that the protein-protein interactions are exaggerated in the Martini model. If this held true, then it would limit the applicability of Martini to study multi-protein complexes, as the rapidly clustering proteins would not be able to properly sample the correct dimerization conformations. In this work we first demonstrate the excessive protein aggregation by comparing the dimerization free energies of helical transmembrane peptides obtained with the Martini model to those determined from FRET experiments. Second, we show that the predictions provided by the Martini model for the structures of transmembrane domain dimers are in poor agreement with the corresponding structures resolved using NMR. Next, we demonstrate that the first issue can be overcome by slightly scaling down the Martini protein-protein interactions in a manner, which does not interfere with the other Martini interaction parameters. By preventing excessive, irreversible, and non-selective aggregation of membrane proteins, this approach renders the consideration of lateral dynamics and protein-lipid interactions in crowded membranes by the Martini model more realistic. However, this adjusted model does not lead to an improvement in the predicted dimer structures. This implicates that the poor agreement between the Martini model and NMR structures cannot be cured by simply uniformly reducing the interactions between all protein beads. Instead, a careful amino-acid specific adjustment of the protein-protein interactions is likely required.
  • Fliervoet, Lies A. L.; Lisitsyna, Ekaterina S.; Durandin, Nikita A.; Kotsis, Ilias; Maas-Bakker, Roel F. M.; Yliperttula, Marjo; Hennink, Wim E.; Vuorimaa-Laukkanen, Elina; Vermonden, Tina (2020)
    Combining multiple stimuli-responsive functionalities into the polymer design is an attractive approach to improve nucleic acid delivery. However, more in-depth fundamental understanding how the multiple functionalities in the polymer structures are influencing polyplex formation and stability is essential for the rational development of such delivery systems. Therefore, in this study the structure and dynamics of thermosensitive polyplexes were investigated by tracking the behavior of labeled plasmid DNA (pDNA) and polymer with time-resolved fluorescence spectroscopy using fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET). The successful synthesis of a heterofunctional poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) macroinitiator containing both an atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP) and reversible addition-fragmentation chain-transfer (RAFT) initiator is reported. The use of this novel PEG macroinitiator allows for the controlled polymerization of cationic and thermosensitive linear triblock copolymers and labeling of the chain-end with a fluorescent dye by maleimide-thiol chemistry. The polymers consisted of a thermosensitive poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAM, N), hydrophilic PEG (P), and cationic poly(2-(dimethylamino)ethyl methacrylate) (PDMAEMA, D) block, further referred to as NPD. Polymer block D chain-ends were labeled with Cy3, while pDNA was labeled with FITC. The thermosensitive NPD polymers were used to prepare pDNA polyplexes, and the effect of the N/P charge ratio, temperature, and composition of the triblock copolymer on the polyplex properties were investigated, taking nonthermosensitive PD polymers as the control. FRET was observed both at 4 and 37 degrees C, indicating that the introduction of the thermosensitive PNIPAM block did not compromise the polyplex structure even above the polymer's cloud point. Furthermore, FRET results showed that the NPD- and PD-based polyplexes have a less dense core compared to polyplexes based on cationic homopolymers (such as PEI) as reported before. The polyplexes showed to have a dynamic character meaning that the polymer chains can exchange between the polyplex core and shell. Mobility of the polymers allow their uniform redistribution within the polyplex and this feature has been reported to be favorable in the context of pDNA release and subsequent improved transfection efficiency, compared to nondynamic formulations.
  • Saraheimo, Satu; Hepojoki, Jussi; Nurmi, Visa; Lahtinen, Anne; Hemmila, Ilkka; Vaheri, Antti; Vapalahti, Olli; Hedman, Klaus (2013)