Integration of isothermal amplification with quantum dot-based fluorescence resonance energy transfer for simultaneous detection of multiple microRNAs†
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs that regulate important physiological processes, and their dysregulation is associated with various human diseases. Simultaneous sensitive detection of multiple miRNAs may facilitate early clinical diagnosis. In this research, we demonstrate for the first time the integration of hyperbranched rolling circle amplification (HRCA) with quantum dot (QD)-based fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) for the simultaneous detection of multiple microRNAs with a single-color QD as the donor and two fluorescent dyes as the acceptors. We used miR-21 and miR-221 as target miRNAs. We designed two circular templates which may specifically hybridize with miR-21 and miR-221, respectively, for the initiation of the HRCA reaction. The products of the HRCA reaction may hybridize with both capture probes and reporter probes to form the biotinylated acceptor-labeled sandwich hybrids. The resultant sandwich hybrids can assemble on the surface of the QD, enabling efficient FRET between the QD and the acceptors, with the Cy3 signal indicating the presence of miR-21 and the Texas Red signal indicating the presence of miR-221. This assay has significant advantages of simplicity and low cost. The HRCA reaction can be performed under isothermal conditions with the same reverse primer for different target miRNAs, and the products of the HRCA reaction for both miR-21 and miR-221 can specifically hybridize with the same capture probes. This assay exhibits excellent specificity and high sensitivity with a detection limit of 7.2 × 10−16 M for miR-21 and 1.6 × 10−17 M for miR-221, and it can be used for simultaneous detection of multiple miRNAs in human cancer cells, holding great potential in biomedical research and clinical diagnosis.