von Willebrand factor (VWF) is a blood glycoprotein that plays an important role in platelet thrombus formation through interaction with its A1 domain and platelet glycoprotein 1b. Thus, VWF A1 domain was thought to be a good therapeutic target candidate for VWF mediated thrombosis. In this study, we analyzed the inhibitory effects of a novel DNA aptamer (TAGX-0004) on platelet aggregation compared with another VWF A1 domain binding aptamer (ARC1779) which had entered to Phase II clinical trial for acquired thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) in 2011.


TAGX-0004 was generated by SELEX (systematic evolution of ligands by exponential enrichment) and consisted of artificial nucleic acid base, 7-(2-thienyl) imidazo [4,5-b] pyridine (Ds) as well as natural bases (Adenine, Thymine, Cytosine and Guanine). The dissociation constant (Kd) of the aptamers was analyzed by electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA). 100 nM of each DNA aptamer was mixed with A1 domain of VWF protein (final concentration was 0 to 800 nM) in binding buffer (1x PBS, 0.005% NP-40) and incubated for 30 min at 37 °C. The samples were subjected to EMSA with 8% native PAGE, then stained by SYBR Gold. Kd value was determined with scatchard plot analysis. To characterize the binding sites of VWF A1 to these DNA aptamers, various mutants of VWF A1 domain were generated with an alanine substitution technique.

Platelet aggregation was induced with ristocetin (RIPA), botrocetin (BIPA), collagen, epinephrine and adenosine diphosphate (ADP). The change of light transmission rate of platelet rich plasma (PRP) compared to platelet poor plasma (PPP) at 37 °C was recorded for 6 min, then the inhibition ratio of platelet aggregation was determined. Total thrombus-formation analysis system (T-TAS) (Fujimori Kogyo Co. Ltd., Tokyo, Japan), which is a novel micro-chip flow-chamber system, was employed to analyze thrombus formation visually and quantitatively in whole blood samples. The micro-chip coated with type 1 collagen was used for this analysis. Anti-VWF A1 inhibitory effects of these aptamers at high shear stress (initial rate of 2000 s-1) were calculated by continuous pressure levels within its narrow capillary. The course of thrombus formation was also optically recorded with a video-microscope located under the microchip.


Biophysical interaction analysis using EMSA showed that TAGX-0004 had approximately 15-times higher binding activity to VWF A1 domain than ARC1779. Based on an alanine scan analysis, it was revealed that a couple of residues we tested were critical for binding of ARC1779 but not for TAGX-0004, which indicating that TAGX-0004 interacts with VWF A1 domain via different amino acid residue(s).

Both aptamers did not inhibit the platelet aggregation induced by collagen, epinephrine or ADP. In RIPA, the 80% inhibition was observed by TAGX-0004 and ARC1779 at a final concentration of 10 nM and 750 nM, respectively. In BIPA, those were seen at those of 50 nM and 1000 nM, respectively. In T-TAS analysis, TAGX-0004 inhibited the thrombus formation completely at a final concentration of 100 nM, whereas ARC1779 exhibited partial inhibition of thrombosis formation even at 1000 nM. These results indicated that TAGX-0004 had stronger inhibitory effect on the platelet aggregation compared with ARC1779 under both static and high-shear conditions.


In the present study, we showed the affinity to VWF-A1 domain of TAGX-0004 was stronger than that of ARC1779. In addition, TAGX-0004 was more effective in suppressing platelet aggregation under both static and high-shear stress condition than ARC1779. In the published results of clinical study of ARC1779, there were no hemorrhagic complications in the small clinical trial of patients (7 patients of ARC1779 group) despite the almost complete suppression of VWF function in severely thrombocytopenic patients. Therefore, TAGX-0004 could be developed as a promising therapeutic agent for VWF mediated thrombotic disorders, such as acute coronary syndrome and TTP.


No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.