Hybridization chain reaction-based fluorescence immunoassay using DNA intercalating dye for signal readout†
A novel format of fluorescence immunosorbent assay based on the hybridization chain reaction (HCR) using a DNA intercalating dye for signal readout was constructed for the sensitive detection of targets, both in competitive and sandwich modes. In this platform, the capture and recognition processes are based on immunoreactions and the signal amplification depends on the enzyme-free, isothermal HCR-induced labelling event. After a competitive or a sandwich immunoreaction, a biotinylated capture DNA was bound to a biotinylated signal antibody through avidin, and triggered the HCR by two specific hairpins into a nicked double helix. Gene Finder (GF), a fluorescent probe for double-strand DNA, was intercalated in situ into the amplified chain to produce the fluorescence signal. The limit of detection (LOD) for rabbit IgG in competitive mode by HCR/GF immunoassay was improved at least 100-fold compared with the traditional fluorescence immunoassay using the fluorescein isothiocyanate-labelled–streptavidin or fluorescein isothiocyanate-labelled second antibody as the signal readout. The proposed fluorescence immunoassay was also demonstrated by using α-fetoprotein as the model target in sandwich mode, and showed a wide linear range from 28 ng mL−1 to 20 μg mL−1 with a LOD of 6.0 ng mL−1. This method also showed satisfactory analysis in spiked human serum, which suggested that it might have great potential for versatile applications in life science and point-of-care diagnostics.