A signal-on electrochemical aptasensor for ultrasensitive detection of endotoxin using three-way DNA junction-aided enzymatic recycling and graphene nanohybrid for amplification
Endotoxin, also known as lipopolysaccharide (LPS), is able to induce a strong immune response on its internalization into mammalian cells. To date, aptamer-based biosensors for LPS detection have been rarely reported. This work describes a new signal-on electrochemical aptasensor for the ultrasensitive detection of LPS by combining the three-way DNA hybridization process and nanotechnology-based amplification. With the help of DNA1 (associated with the concentration of target LPS), the capture probe hybridizes with DNA1 and the assistant probe to open its hairpin structure and form a ternary “Y” junction structure. The DNA1 can be released from the structure in the presence of nicking endonuclease to initiate the next hybridization process. Then a great deal of cleaved capture probe produced in the cyclic process can bind with DNA2–nanocomposite, which contains the electroactive toluidine blue (Tb) with the amplification materials graphene (Gra) and gold nanoparticles (AuNPs). Thus, an enhanced electrochemical signal can be easily read out. With the cascade signal amplification, this newly designed protocol provides an ultrasensitive electrochemical detection of LPS down to the femtogram level (8.7 fg mL−1) with a linear range of 6 orders of magnitude (from 10 fg mL−1 to 50 ng mL−1). Moreover, the high sensitivity and specificity make this method versatile for the detection of other biomolecules by changing the corresponding sequences of the capture probe and the assistant probe.