Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Development, screening, and analysis of DNA aptamer libraries potentially useful for diagnosis and passive immunity of arboviruses

John G Bruno1*, Maria P Carrillo1, Alicia M Richarte1, Taylor Phillips1, Carrie Andrews1 and John S Lee2

Author Affiliations

1 Operational Technologies Corporation, 4100 NW Loop 410, Suite 230, San Antonio, TX, 78229, USA

2 U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, Military Infectious Disease Research Program, 504 Scott Street, Bldg. 722, Fort Detrick, MD, 21702, USA

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BMC Research Notes 2012, 5:633  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-5-633

Published: 13 November 2012



Nucleic acid aptamers have long demonstrated the capacity to bind viral envelope proteins and to inhibit the progression of pathogenic virus infections. Here we report on initial efforts to develop and screen DNA aptamers against recombinant envelope proteins or synthetic peptides and whole inactivated viruses from several virulent arboviruses including Chikungunya, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF), dengue, tickborne encephalitis and West Nile viruses. We also analyzed sequence data and secondary structures for commonalities that might reveal consensus binding sites among the various aptamers. Some of the highest affinity and most specific aptamers in the down-selected libraries were demonstrated to have diagnostic utility in lateral flow chromatographic assays and in a fluorescent aptamer-magnetic bead sandwich assay. Some of the reported aptamers may also be able to bind viral envelope proteins in vivo and therefore may have antiviral potential in passive immunity or prophylactic applications.


Several arbovirus DNA aptamer sequences emerged multiple times in the various down selected aptamer libraries thereby suggesting some consensus sequences for binding arbovirus envelope proteins. Screening of aptamers by enzyme-linked aptamer sorbent assay (ELASA) was useful for ranking relative aptamer affinities against their cognate viral targets. Additional study of the aptamer sequences and secondary structures of top-ranked anti-arboviral aptamers suggest potential virus binding motifs exist within some of the key aptamers and are highlighted in the supplemental figures for this article. One sequence segment (ACGGGTCCGGACA) emerged 60 times in the anti-CCHF aptamer library, but nowhere else in the anti-arbovirus library and only a few other times in a larger library of aptamers known to bind bacteria and rickettsia or other targets. Diagnostic utility of some of the aptamers for arbovirus detection in lateral flow chromatographic assays and a fluorescent sandwich assay on the surface of magnetic microbeads is also demonstrated.


This article catalogues numerous DNA aptamer sequences which can bind various important pathogenic arboviruses and have, in some cases, already demonstrated diagnostic potential. These aptamer sequences are proprietary, patent-pending, and partially characterized. Therefore, they are offered to the scientific community for potential research use in diagnostic assays, biosensor applications or for possible passive immunity and prophylaxis against pathogenic viruses.

Aptamer; Arbovirus; Consensus; DNA; Enzyme-linked; Fluorescence; Lateral flow; SELEX