ABSTRACT: In this work, we developed a simple and general method for highly sensitive detection of proteins and small molecules based on cyclic enzymatic signal amplification (CESA) and hairpin aptamer probe. Our detection system consists of a hairpin aptamer probe, a linker DNA, two sets of DNA-modified AuNPs, and nicking endonuclease (NEase). In the absence of a target, the hairpin aptamer probe and linker DNA can stably coexist in solution. Then, the linker DNA can assemble two sets of DNA-modified AuNPs, inducing the aggregation of AuNPs. However, in the presence of a target, the hairpin structure of aptamer probe is opened upon interaction with the target to form an aptamer probe-target complex. Then, the probe-target complex can hybridize to the linker DNA. Upon formation of the duplex, the NEase recognizes specific nucleotide sequence and cleaves the linker DNA into two fragments. After nicking, the released probe-target complex can hybridize with another intact linker DNA and the cycle starts anew. The cleaved fragments of linker DNA are not able to assemble two sets of DNA-modified AuNPs, thus a red color of separated AuNPs can be observed. Taking advantage of the AuNPs-based sensing technique, we are able to assay the target simply by UV-vis spectroscopy and even by the naked eye. Herein, we can detect the human thrombin with a detection limit of 50 pM and adenosine triphosphate (ATP) with a detection limit of 100 nM by the naked eye. This sensitivity is about 3 orders of magnitude higher than that of traditional AuNPs-based methods without amplification. In addition, this method is general since there is no requirement of the NEase recognition site in the aptamer sequence. Furthermore, we proved that the proposed method is capable of detecting the target in complicated biological samples.
Analytical Chemistry 05/2012; 84(12):5309-15. · 5.86 Impact Factor