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Sensitive detection of microRNAs based on the conversion of colorimetric assay into electrochemical analysis with duplex-specific nuclease-assisted signal amplification

Authors Xia N, Liu K, Zhou Y, Li Y, Yi X

Received 2 April 2017

Accepted for publication 13 June 2017

Published 13 July 2017 Volume 2017:12 Pages 5013—5022

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/IJN.S138656

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Linlin Sun


Ning Xia,1,2 Ke Liu,1 Yingying Zhou,1 Yuanyuan Li,1 Xinyao Yi2

1Key Laboratory of New Optoelectronic Functional Materials, College of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Anyang Normal University, Anyang, 2College of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Central South University, Changsha, China

Abstract: miRNAs have emerged as new biomarkers for the detection of a wide variety of cancers. By employing duplex-specific nuclease for signal amplification and gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) as the carriers of detection probes, a novel electrochemical assay of miRNAs was performed. The method is based on conversion of the well-known colorimetric assay into electrochemical analysis with enhanced sensitivity. DNA capture probes immobilized on the electrode surface and ferrocene (Fc)-labeled DNA detection probes (denoted “Fc-DNA-Fc”) presented in the solution induced the assembly of positively charged AuNPs on the electrode surface through the electrostatic interaction. As a result, a large number of Fc-DNA-Fc molecules were attached on the electrode surface, thus amplifying the electrochemical signal. When duplex-specific nuclease was added to recycle the process of miRNA-initiated digestion of the immobilized DNA probes, Fc-DNA-Fc-induced assembly of AuNPs on the electrode surface could not occur. This resulted in a significant fall in the oxidation current of Fc. The current was found to be inversely proportional to the concentration of miRNAs in the range of 0–25 fM, and a detection limit of 0.1 fM was achieved. Moreover, this work presents a new method for converting colorimetric assays into sensitive electrochemical analyses, and thus would be valuable for design of novel chemical/biosensors.

Keywords: microRNA, duplex-specific nuclease, gold nanoparticle, signal amplification, electrochemical biosensor, colorimetric assay

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