Colorimetric assay for mercury (II) based on mercury-specific deoxyribonucleic acid-functionalized gold nanoparticles.
ABSTRACT A colorimetric nanoprobe-mercury-specific DNA-functionalized gold nanoparticles (Au-MSD) was developed for sensing Hg(2+). The new mercury-sensing concept relies on measuring changes in the inhibition of "non-crosslinking" aggregation of Au-MSD-induced by the folding of mercury-specific DNA strand through the thymine-Hg(2+)-thymine (T-Hg(2+)-T) coordination. In the absence of Hg(2+), a high concentration of MgCl(2) (50 mM) results in a rapid aggregation of Au-MSD because of the removal of charge repulsion. When Hg(2+) is present, the particles remain stable due to the folding of MSD functionalized on the particle surface. The assay enables the colorimetric detection of Hg(2+) in the concentration range of 0.1-10 μM Hg(2+) ions with a detection limit of 60 nM, and allows for the selective discrimination of Hg(2+) ions from the other competitive metal ions. Toward the goal for practical applications, the sensor was further evaluated by monitoring Hg(2+) in fish tissue samples.