Functional nucleic acid-based sensors for heavy metal ion assays
Heavy metal contaminants such as lead ions (Pb2+), mercury ions (Hg2+) and silver ions (Ag+) can cause significant harm to humans and generate enduring bioaccumulation in ecological systems. Even though a variety of methods have been developed for Pb2+, Hg2+ and Ag+ assays, most of them are usually laborious and time-consuming with poor sensitivity. Due to their unique advantages of excellent catalytic properties and high affinity for heavy metal ions, functional nucleic acids such as DNAzymes and aptamers show great promise in the development of novel sensors for heavy metal ion assays. In this review, we summarize the development of functional nucleic acid-based sensors for the detection of Pb2+, Hg2+ and Ag+, and especially focus on two categories including the direct assay and the amplification-based assay. We highlight the emerging trends in the development of sensitive and selective sensors for heavy metal ion assays as well.