Colorimetry and SERS dual-mode detection of telomerase activity: combining rapid screening with high sensitivity†
As an important biomarker and therapeutic target, telomerase has attracted considerable attention concerning its detection and monitoring. Here, we present a colorimetry and surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) dual-mode telomerase activity detection method, which has several distinctive advantages. First, colorimetric functionality allows rapid preliminary discrimination of telomerase activity by the naked eye. Second, the employment of SERS technique results in greatly improved detection sensitivity. Third, the combination of colorimetry and SERS into one detection system can ensure highly efficacious and sensitive screening of numerous samples. Besides, the avoidance of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) procedures further guarantees fine reliability and simplicity. Generally, the presented method is realized by an “elongate and capture” procedure. To be specific, gold nanoparticles modified with Raman molecules and telomeric repeat complementary oligonucleotide are employed as the colorimetric-SERS bifunctional reporting nanotag, while magnetic nanoparticles functionalized with telomerase substrate oligonucleotide are used as the capturing substrate. Telomerase can synthesize and elongate telomeric repeats onto the capturing substrate. The elongated telomeric repeats subsequently facilitate capturing of the reporting nanotag via hybridization between telomeric repeat and its complementary strand. The captured nanotags can cause a significant difference in the color and SERS intensity of the magnetically separated sediments. Thus both the color and SERS can be used as indicators of the telomerase activity. With fast screening ability and outstanding sensitivity, we anticipate that this method would greatly promote practical application of telomerase-based early-stage cancer diagnosis.