Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) and related fluorescent proteins (FPs) have been widely used to tag proteins, allowing their expression and subcellular localization to be examined in real time in living cells and animals. Similar fluorescent methods are highly desirable to detect and track RNA and other biological molecules in living cells. For this purpose, we have developed a group of RNA aptamers that bind GFP and related proteins, which we term Fluorescent Protein-Binding Aptamers (FPBA). These aptamers bind GFP, YFP and CFP with low nanomolar affinity and binding decreases GFP fluorescence, whereas slightly augmenting YFP and CFP brightness. Aptamer binding results in an increase in the pKa of EGFP, decreasing the 475 nm excited green fluorescence at a given pH. We report the secondary structure of FPBA and the ability to synthesize functional multivalent dendrimers. FPBA expressed in live cells decreased GFP fluorescence in a valency-dependent manner, indicating that the RNA aptamers function within cells. The development of aptamers that bind fluorescent proteins with high affinity and alter their function, markedly expands their use in the study of biological pathways
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