In-Silico Selection of Aptamer Targeting SARS-CoV-2 Spike Protein

Yu Chao Lin, Wen Yih Chen, En Te Hwu, Wen Pin Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Aptamers are single-stranded, short DNA or RNA oligonucleotides that can specifically bind to various target molecules. To diagnose the infected cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in time, numerous conventional methods are applied for viral detection via the amplification and quantification of DNA or antibodies specific to antigens on the virus. Herein, we generated a large number of mutated aptamer sequences, derived from a known sequence of receptor-binding domain (RBD)-1C aptamer, specific to the RBD of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein (S protein). Structural similarity, molecular docking, and molecular dynamics (MD) were utilized to screen aptamers and characterize the detailed interactions between the selected aptamers and the S protein. We identified two mutated aptamers, namely, RBD-1CM1 and RBD-1CM2, which presented better docking results against the S protein compared with the RBD-1C aptamer. Through the MD simulation, we further confirmed that the RBD-1CM1 aptamer can form the most stable complex with the S protein based on the number of hydrogen bonds formed between the two bio-molecules. Based on the experimental data of quartz crystal microbalance (QCM), the RBD-1CM1 aptamer could produce larger signals in mass change and exhibit an improved binding affinity to the S protein. Therefore, the RBD-1CM1 aptamer, which was selected from 1431 mutants, was the best potential candidate for the detection of SARS-CoV-2. The RBD-1CM1 aptamer can be an alter-native biological element for the development of SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic testing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5810
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1 May 2022


  • COVID-19
  • DNA aptamer
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • aptamer–protein interaction
  • infectious disease
  • molecular dynamics simulation
  • spike protein


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