Organic additives stabilize RNA aptamer binding of malachite green

Yubin Zhou, Hong Chi, Yuanyuan Wu, Robert S. Marks, Terry W.J. Steele

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aptamer-ligand binding has been utilized for biological applications due to its specific binding and synthetic nature. However, the applications will be limited if the binding or the ligand is unstable. Malachite green aptamer (MGA) and its labile ligand malachite green (MG) were found to have increasing apparent dissociation constants (Kd) as determined through the first order rate loss of emission intensity of the MGA-MG fluorescent complex. The fluorescent intensity loss was hypothesized to be from the hydrolysis of MG into malachite green carbinol base (MGOH). Random screening organic additives were found to reduce or retain the fluorescence emission and the calculated apparent Kd of MGA-MG binding. The protective effect became more apparent as the percentage of organic additives increased up to 10% v/v. The mechanism behind the organic additive protective effects was primarily from a ~5X increase in first order rate kinetics of MGOH→MG (kMGOH→MG), which significantly changed the equilibrium constant (Keq), favoring the generation of MG, versus MGOH without organic additives. A simple way has been developed to stabilize the apparent Kd of MGA-MG binding over 24 h, which may be beneficial in stabilizing other triphenylmethane or carbocation ligand-aptamer interactions that are susceptible to SN1 hydrolysis.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)172-182
Number of pages11
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2016


  • Adaptive binding
  • Equilibrium
  • Ligand hydrolysis
  • Malachite green
  • Malachite green aptamer

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Analytical Chemistry


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