Combining bacteriophage engineering and linear dichroism spectroscopy to produce a DNA hybridisation assay†
Nucleic acid detection is an important part of our bio-detection arsenal, with the COVID-19 pandemic clearly demonstrating the importance to healthcare of rapid and efficient detection of specific pathogenic sequences. As part of the drive to establish new DNA detection methodologies and signal read-outs, here we show how linear dichroism (LD) spectroscopy can be used to produce a rapid and modular detection system for detecting quantities of DNA from both bacterial and viral pathogens. The LD sensing method exploits changes in fluid alignment of bionanoparticles (bacteriophage M13) engineered with DNA stands covalently attached to their surfaces, with the read-out signal induced by the formation of complementary duplexes between DNA targets and two M13 bionanoparticles. This new sandwich assay can detect pathogenic material down to picomolar levels in under 1 minute without amplification, as demonstrated by the successful sensing of DNA sequences from a plant virus (Potato virus Y) and an ampicillin resistance gene, ampR.