Triple-helix molecular-switch-actuated exponential rolling circular amplification for ultrasensitive fluorescence detection of miRNAs
We have formulated a rapid and high-efficiency fluorescent biosensing platform based on a target-activated triple-helix molecular switch (THMS)-conformation-change-induced exponential rolling circular amplification (RCA) strategy for the ultrasensitive detection of miR-21. In this strategy, there are several aspects that are worthwhile. First, the functionalized THMS, comprising a typical triplex structure (T-A·T), specific recognition sequence for nicking endonuclease, complementary sequence for miR-21, and RCA product-annealing sequence, was concurrently used to perform signal transduction with one fluorophore and one quencher. As compared to the traditional double-helix molecular switches or molecular beacons, one of the biggest differentiating factors is that the properties of THMSs are independent of any specific binding sequence that they may contain. As far as we know, this is the first time that an ingeniously designed THMS not only contains the primer for exponential RCA, but also functions as the tracer for fluorescence assay. In the presence of miR-21, targets can induce conformation changes in THMS with the release of the trapped DNA segment (P), which, in turn, can activate the first run of the RCA process. Meanwhile, the RCA reaction is also initiated by the formation of a similar primer (SP) as the trapped DNA through a continuous “extension-nicking” reaction. Secondly, the resultant first-generation RCA product consists of numerous tandem repeated regions that can attach to countless THMSs, resulting in the release of the trapped DNA segment (P) for initiating the second run of the RCA reaction. Significantly, a large amount of THMSs were continuously consumed to yield a remarkably strong fluorescent signal. In addition, this biosensor was demonstrated to exhibit improved sensitivity owing to the high efficiency and rapid amplification kinetics of the exponential RCA and high selectivity toward miR-21 with a limit of detection as low as 1.1 aM. Hence, the target-mediated THMS-conformation-change-initiated exponential RCA strategy presents an optimal detection performance toward analytes for potential applications in related fundamental research and clinical diagnosis.