Target-driven DNA association to initiate cyclic assembly of hairpins for biosensing and logic gate operation†
A target-driven DNA association was designed to initiate cyclic assembly of hairpins, which led to an enzyme-free amplification strategy for detection of a nucleic acid or aptamer substrate and flexible construction of logic gates. The cyclic system contained two ssDNA (S1 and S2) and two hairpins (H1 and H2). These ssDNA could co-recognize the target to produce an S1–target–S2 structure, which brought their toehold and branch-migration domains into close proximity to initiate the cyclic assembly of hairpins. The assembly product further induced the dissociation of a double-stranded probe DNA (Q:F) via toehold-mediated strand displacement to switch the fluorescence signal. This method could detect DNA and ATP as model analytes down to 21.6 pM and 38 nM, respectively. By designing different DNA input strands, the “AND”, “INHIBIT” and “NAND” logic gates could be activated to achieve the output signal. The proposed biosensing and logic gate operation platform showed potential applications in disease diagnosis.