A NASBA on microgel-tethered molecular-beacon microarray for real-time microbial molecular diagnostics
Despite their many advantages and successes, molecular beacon (MB) hybridization probes have not been extensively used in microarray formats because of the complicating probe–substrate interactions that increase the background intensity. We have previously shown that tethering to surface-patterned microgels is an effective means for localizing MB probes to specific surface locations in a microarray format while simultaneously maintaining them in as water-like an environment as possible and minimizing probe–surface interactions. Here we extend this approach to include both real-time detection together with integrated NASBA amplification. We fabricate small (∼250 μm × 250 μm) simplex, duplex, and five-plex assays with microarray spots of controllable size (∼20 μm diameter), position, and shape to detect bacteria and fungi in a bloodstream-infection model. The targets, primers, and microgel-tethered probes can be combined in a single isothermal reaction chamber with no post-amplification labelling. We extract total RNA from clinical blood samples and differentiate between Gram-positive and Gram-negative bloodstream infection in a duplex assay to detect RNA- amplicons. The sensitivity based on our current protocols in a simplex assay to detect specific ribosomal RNA sequences within total RNA extracted from S. aureus and E. coli cultures corresponds to tens of bacteria per ml. We furthermore show that the platform can detect RNA- amplicons from synthetic target DNA with 1 fM sensitivity in sample volumes that contain about 12 000 DNA molecules. These experiments demonstrate an alternative approach that can enable rapid and real-time microarray-based molecular diagnostics.