Real-time monitoring of enzyme-free strand displacement cascades by colorimetric assays†
The enzyme-free toehold-mediated strand displacement reaction has shown potential for building programmable DNA circuits, biosensors, molecular machines and chemical reaction networks. Here we report a simple colorimetric method using gold nanoparticles as signal generators for the real-time detection of the product of the strand displacement cascade. During the process the assembled gold nanoparticles can be separated, resulting in a color change of the solution. This assay can also be applied in complex mixtures, fetal bovine serum, and to detect single-base mismatches. These results suggest that this method could be of general utility to monitor more complex enzyme-free strand displacement reaction-based programmable systems or for further low-cost diagnostic applications.