Von Willebrand factor (VWF) is a blood glycoprotein that plays an important role in platelet thrombus formation through interaction between its A1 domain and platelet glycoprotein Ib. ARC1779, an aptamer to the VWF A1 domain, was evaluated in a clinical trial for acquired thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (aTTP). Subsequently, caplacizumab, an anti-VWF A1 domain nanobody, was approved for aTTP in Europe and the USA. We recently developed a novel DNA aptamer, TAGX-0004, to the VWF A1 domain; it contains an artificial base and demonstrates high affinity for VWF. To compare the effects of these three agents on VWF A1, their ability to inhibit ristocetin- or botrocetin-induced platelet aggregation under static conditions was analyzed, and the inhibition of thrombus formation under high shear stress was investigated in a microchip flow chamber system. In both assays, TAGX-0004 showed stronger inhibition than ARC1779, and had comparable inhibitory effects to caplacizumab. The binding sites of TAGX-0004 and ARC1779 were analyzed with surface plasmon resonance performed using alanine scanning mutagenesis of the VWF A1 domain. An electrophoretic mobility shift assay showed that R1395 and R1399 in the A1 domain bound to both aptamers. R1287, K1362, and R1392 contributed to ARC1779 binding, and F1366 was essential for TAGX-0004 binding. Surface plasmon resonance analysis of the binding sites of caplacizumab identified five amino acids in the VWF A1 domain (K1362, R1392, R1395, R1399, and K1406). These results suggest that TAGX-0004 possesses better pharmacological properties than caplacizumab in vitro and might be similarly promising for aTTP treatment.
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