Aptamers and apple pies: a mini-review of PSMA aptamers and lessons from Donald S. Coffey

This mini-review article is part of a special issue dedicated to Donald S. Coffey, a pioneer translational research scientist, exemplary mentor, and leader in urologic and urologic oncology research. This article first briefly reflects on life and scientific lessons from Don Coffey. It then reviews the development of two prostate cancer targeting RNA aptamers, xPSM-A9 and xPSM-A10, through in vitro selection for aptamers that bind to the extracellular domain of the Prostate Specific Membrane Antigen (PSMA). These 2'-fluorpyrimidine RNA aptamers selectively bind PSMA on the surface of prostate cancer cells, inhibit PSMA glutamate carboxypeptidase activity, and internalize into PSMA-expressing cancer cells. The truncation of both aptamers, through experimentation as well as logical design, has produced smaller isoforms including A10-3, A10-3.2, A9g and A9L. The larger aptamer isoforms xPSM-A9 and xPSM-A10 are limited to production by in vitro transcription and polyacrylamide gel purification, while smaller isoforms can be generated by chemically synthesis. A series of aptamer conjugates have been developed through chemical crosslinking, complementary annealing strategies, or a combination of both, for the targeting of experimental therapeutics to and into prostate cancer cells. The resulting aptamer conjugates, including nanoparticles and siRNA conjugates, selectively target PSMA-positive prostate cancer cells and xenograft tumors, and demonstrate potent cytotoxic and tumoricidal activity. These experimental therapeutic agents provide a platform for realizing and optimizing the potential of tumor-selective targeting and drug delivery.

American journal of clinical and experimental urology. 2018 Apr 01*** epublish ***

Shawn E Lupold

The James Buchanan Brady Urologic Institute and Department of Urology, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA; The Department of Oncology, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins UniversityBaltimore, MD, USA.