Aptamers in analytics

Ilgu M., Nilsen-Hamilton M.

ANALYST, vol.141, no.5, pp.1551-1568, 2016 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Review
  • Volume: 141 Issue: 5
  • Publication Date: 2016
  • Doi Number: 10.1039/c5an01824b
  • Journal Name: ANALYST
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.1551-1568
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: No


Nucleic acid aptamers are promising alternatives to antibodies in analytics. They are generally obtained through an iterative SELEX protocol that enriches a population of synthetic oligonucleotides to a subset that can recognize the chosen target molecule specifically and avidly. A wide range of targets is recognized by aptamers. Once identified and optimized for performance, aptamers can be reproducibly synthesized and offer other key features, like small size, low cost, sensitivity, specificity, rapid response, stability, and reusability. This makes them excellent options for sensory units in a variety of analytical platforms including those with electrochemical, optical, and mass sensitive transduction detection. Many novel sensing strategies have been developed by rational design to take advantage of the tendency of aptamers to undergo conformational changes upon target/analyte binding and employing the principles of base complementarity that can drive the nucleic acid structure. Despite their many advantages over antibodies, surprisingly few aptamers have yet been integrated into commercially available analytical devices. In this review, we discuss how to select and engineer aptamers for their identified application(s), some of the challenges faced in developing aptamers for analytics and many examples of their reported successful performance as sensors in a variety of analytical platforms.