Journal of Sol-Gel Science and Technology

, Volume 89, Issue 1, pp 234–243 | Cite as

Investigation of RNA structure-switching aptamers in tunable sol–gel-derived materials

  • Christy Y. Hui
  • Pui Sai Lau
  • Yingfu Li
  • John D. BrennanEmail author
Original Paper: Sol-gel and hybrid materials for biological and health (medical) applications


In recent years RNA aptamers have emerged as potential recognition elements for solid phase assays, including assays that utilize sol–gel based biohybrid materials. However, there is still very little knowledge regarding the behavior of RNA aptamers when entrapped in sol–gel-derived materials. In this work, we evaluated the performance of an adenosine triphosphate (ATP)-binding structure-switching RNA aptamer in a series of sol–gel derived materials and compared the results to those previously reported for an ATP-binding DNA aptamer. It was observed that the nature of the entrapping material is the key parameter affecting the functionality of the entrapped ATP-binding RNA aptamer, which mainly impacts its ability to remain fully hybridized to signaling DNA strands upon entrapment. We observed that those materials with a high organic content provided the best performance for entrapped RNA aptamers at early times after entrapment. However, upon aging, materials derived from sodium silicate provided the best performance. Overall, the results suggest that polar materials that do not produce alcohol are optimal for entrapment of both DNA and RNA aptamers that bind ATP.


Sol–gel RNA aptamer Biohybrid material Biomolecule entrapment Fluorescence 



We thank the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and Pro-Lab Diagnostics Inc. for funding this work. We also thank the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Ministry of Research and Innovation (Ontario Research Fund) for support of this work. YL holds the Canada Research Chair in Directed Evolution of Nucleic Acids. JDB holds the Canada Research Chair in Bioanalytical Chemistry and Biointerfaces.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10971_2018_4588_MOESM1_ESM.docx (4.6 mb)
Supplementary Information


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biointerfaces InstituteMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada
  2. 2.Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical SciencesMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada

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