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Human norovirus is the leading cause of foodborne illness globally. One of the challenges in detecting noroviruses is the identification of a completely broadly reactive ligand; however, all detection ligands generated to date target the viral capsid, the outermost of which is the most variable region of the genome. The VPg is a protein covalently linked to the viral genome that is necessary for replication but hitherto remains underexplored as a target for detection or therapeutics. The purpose of this work was to generate nucleic acid aptamers against human norovirus (Norwalk) and cultivable surrogate (Tulane) VPgs for future use in detection and therapeutics. Eight rounds of positive-SELEX and two rounds of counter-SELEX were performed. Five and eight unique aptamer sequences were identified for Norwalk and Tulane VPg, respectively, all of which were predicted to be stable (∆G < −5.0) and one of which occurred in both pools. All candidates displayed binding to both Tulane and Norwalk VPg (positive:negative > 5.0), and all but two of the candidates displayed very strong binding (positive:negative > 10.0), significantly higher than binding to the negative control protein (p < 0.05). Overall, this work reports a number of aptamer candidates found to be broadly reactive and specific for in vitro-expressed VPgs across genus that could be used for future application in detection or therapeutics. Future work characterizing binding of the aptamer candidates against native VPgs and in therapeutic applications is needed to further evaluate their application.
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Faircloth, Jeremy; Moore, Matthew D.; Stoufer, Sloane; Kim, Minji; and Jaykus, Lee-Ann, "Generation of Nucleic Acid Aptamer Candidates against a Novel Calicivirus Protein Target" (2021). Viruses. 51.