Aptamers have emerged as versatile affinity ligands and as promising alternatives to protein antibodies. However, the inconsistency in the reported affinities and specificities of aptamers has greatly hindered the development of aptamer-based applications. Herein, we present a strategy to characterize aptamers by using DNA origami-based chiral plasmonic assemblies as reporters and establishing a competitive hybridization reaction-based thermodynamic model. We demonstrate the characterization of several DNA aptamers, including aptamers for small molecules and macromolecules, as well as aptamers with high and low affinities. The presented characterization scheme can be readily adapted to a wide selection of aptamers. We anticipate that our approach will advance the development of aptamer-based applications by enabling reliable and reproducible characterization of aptamers.
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