Label-free detection of DNA single-base mismatches using a simple reflectance-based optical technique†
Rapid and quantitative detection of the binding of nucleic acids to surface-immobilized probes remains a challenge in many biomedical applications. We investigated the hybridization of a set of fully complementary and defected 12-base long DNA oligomers by using the Reflective Phantom Interface (RPI), a recently developed multiplexed label-free detection technique. Based on the simple measurement of reflected light intensity, this technology enables to quantify the hybridization directly as it occurs on the surface with a sensitivity of 10 pg mm−2. We found a strong effect of single-base mismatches and of their location on hybridization kinetics and equilibrium binding. In line with previous studies, we found that DNA–DNA binding is weaker on a surface than in the bulk. Our data indicate that this effect is a consequence of weak nonspecific binding of the probes to the surface.