A common anchor facilitated GO-DNA nano-system for multiplex microRNA analysis in live cells†
The design of a nano-system for the detection of intracellular microRNAs is challenging as it must fulfill complex requirements, i.e., it must have a high sensitivity to determine the dynamic expression level, a good reliability for multiplex and simultaneous detection, and a satisfactory biostability to work in biological environments. Instead of employing a commonly used physisorption or a full-conjugation strategy, here, a GO-DNA nano-system was developed under graft/base-pairing construction. The common anchor sequence was chemically grafted to GO to base-pair with various microRNA probes; and the hybridization with miRNAs drives the dyes on the probes to leave away from GO, resulting in “turned-on” fluorescence. This strategy not only simplifies the synthesis but also efficiently balances the loading yields of different probes. Moreover, the conjugation yield of GO with a base-paired hybrid has been improved by more than two-fold compared to that of the conjugation with a single strand. We demonstrated that base-paired DNA probes could be efficiently delivered into cells along with GO and are properly stabilized by the conjugated anchor sequence. The resultant GO-DNA nano-system exhibited high stability in a complex biological environment and good resistance to nucleases, and was able to accurately discriminate various miRNAs without cross-reaction. With all of these positive features, the GO-DNA nano-system can simultaneously detect three miRNAs and monitor their dynamic expression levels.