Anti-Transcription Factor RNA Aptamers as Potential Therapeutics

Estefanía Mondragón, Louis James Maher

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Transcription factors (TFs) are DNA-binding proteins that play critical roles in regulating gene expression. These proteins control all major cellular processes, including growth, development, and homeostasis. Because of their pivotal role, cells depend on proper TF function. It is, therefore, not surprising that TF deregulation is linked to disease. The therapeutic drug targeting of TFs has been proposed as a frontier in medicine. RNA aptamers make interesting candidates for TF modulation because of their unique characteristics. The products of in vitro selection, aptamers are short nucleic acids (DNA or RNA) that bind their targets with high affinity and specificity. Aptamers can be expressed on demand from transgenes and are intrinsically amenable to recognition by nucleic acid-binding proteins such as TFs. In this study, we review several natural prokaryotic and eukaryotic examples of RNAs that modulate the activity of TFs. These examples include 5S RNA, 6S RNA, 7SK, hepatitis delta virus-RNA (HDV-RNA), neuron restrictive silencer element (NRSE)-RNA, growth arrest-specific 5 (Gas5), steroid receptor RNA activator (SRA), trophoblast STAT utron (TSU), the 3' untranslated region of caudal mRNA, and heat shock RNA-1 (HSR1). We then review examples of unnatural RNA aptamers selected to inhibit TFs nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-κB), TATA-binding protein (TBP), heat shock factor 1 (HSF1), and runt-related transcription factor 1 (RUNX1). The field of RNA aptamers for DNA-binding proteins continues to show promise.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-43
Number of pages15
JournalNucleic Acid Therapeutics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Drug Discovery


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