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Low Background Cascade Signal Amplification Electrochemical Sensing Platform for Tumor-Related mRNA Quantification by Target-Activated Hybridization Chain Reaction and Electroactive Cargo Release

Cheng, Hong, Liu, Jinquan, Ma, Wenjie, Duan, Shuangdi, Huang, Jin, He, Xiaoxiao, Wang, Kemin
Analytical chemistry 2018 v.90 no.21 pp. 12544-12552
biomarkers, complementary DNA, electrochemistry, electrodes, hybridization chain reaction, messenger RNA, methylene blue, models, polymers, porous media, silica, thymidine kinase
Herein a low background cascade signal amplification electrochemical sensing platform has been proposed for the ultrasensitive detection of mRNA (mRNA) by coupling the target-activated hybridization chain reaction and electroactive cargo release from mesoporous silica nanocontainers (MSNs). In this sensing platform, the 5′-phosphate-terminated DNA (5′-PO₄ cDNA) complement to target mRNA is hybridized with the trigger DNA and anchor DNA on the surface of the MSNs, aiming at forming a double-stranded DNA gate molecule and sealing the methylene blue (MB) in the inner pores of the MSNs. In the presence of target mRNA, the 5′-PO₄ cDNA is displaced from the MSNs and competitively hybridizes with mRNA, which led to the liberation of the trigger DNA and the opening of the MSNs pore. The liberated trigger DNA can be then immobilized onto the electrode surface through hybridization with the capture DNA, triggering HCR on the electrode surface. At the same time, the MB released from the MSNs will selectively intercalate into the HCR long dsDNA polymers, giving rise to significant electrochemical response. In addition, due to the λ-exonuclease (λ-Exo) cleavage reaction-assisted target recycling, more amounts of trigger DNA will be liberated and trigger HCR, and numerous MB are uncapped and intercalate into the HCR products. As proof of concept, thymidine kinase 1 (TK1) mRNA was used as a model target. Featured with amplification efficiency, label-free capability, and low background signal, the strategy could quantitatively detect TK1 mRNA down to 2.0 aM with a linear calibration range from 0.1 fM to 1 pM. We have also demonstrated the practical application of our proposed sensing platform for detecting TK1 mRNA in real samples, opening up new avenues for highly sensitive quantification of biomarkers in bioanalysis and clinical diagnosis.