A signal-on fluorescence-based strategy for detection of microRNA-21 based on graphene oxide and λ exonuclease-based signal amplification
MicroRNA (miRNA) expression is perturbed in various diseases. Herein, we have aimed to develop a novel and rapid fluorescence-based assay for detecting microRNA-21 (miR-21) activity based on FAM molecular signal amplification and graphene oxide (GO) quenching. In this system, a single stranded DNA (ssDNA) with a phosphate group at the 5′-end is labeled with a FAM molecular label at the 3′-end. In the presence of miR-21, this ssDNA forms a DNA/RNA duplex, which is cleaved by λ exonuclease (λ-exo), releasing FAM and resulting in fluorescence signal amplification at 530 nm. However, the DNA/RNA duplex is not generated in the absence of miR-21, which impedes λ-exo cleavage; subsequently, GO quenches the fluorescence intensity. The results show a detection limit of 0.02 nM and a wide linear range of 0.02–5 nM. The high sensitivity and easy operability of this assay can be applied for detecting miR-21 during clinical diagnosis of certain diseases and in biological research.