DNA aptamers generated by cell-SELEX against bacterial cells have gained increased interest as novel and cost-effective affinity reagents for cell labelling, imaging and biosensing. Here we describe the selection and identification of DNA aptamers for bacterial cells using a combined approach based on cell-SELEX, state-of-the-art applications of quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR), next-generation sequencing (NGS) and bioinformatic data analysis. This approach is demonstrated on Enterococcus faecalis (E. faecalis), which served as target in eleven rounds of cell-SELEX with multiple subtractive counter-selections against non-target species. During the selection, we applied qPCR-based analyses to evaluate the ssDNA pool size and remelting curve analysis of qPCR amplicons to monitor changes in pool diversity and sequence enrichment. Based on NGS-derived data, we identified 16 aptamer candidates. Among these, aptamer EF508 exhibited high binding affinity to E. faecalis cells (KD-value: 37 nM) and successfully discriminated E. faecalis from 20 different Enterococcus and non-Enterococcus spp. Our results demonstrate that this combined approach enabled the rapid and efficient identification of an aptamer with both high affinity and high specificity. Furthermore, the applied monitoring and assessment techniques provide insight into the selection process and can be highly useful to study and improve experimental cell-SELEX designs to increase selection efficiency.
- Aptamers, Nucleotide/genetics
- DNA, Single-Stranded/genetics
- Enterococcus faecalis/cytology
- High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
- Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
- SELEX Aptamer Technique/methods