A DNAzyme-amplified DNA circuit for highly accurate microRNA detection and intracellular imaging†
Biomolecular self-assembly circuits have been well developed for high-performance biosensing and bioengineering applications. Here we designed an isothermal concatenated nucleic acid amplification system which is composed of a lead-in catalyzed hairpin assembly (CHA), intermediate hybridization chain reaction (HCR) and ultimate DNAzyme amplifier units. The analyte initiates the self-assembly of hairpin reactants into dsDNA products in CHA, which generates numerous trigger sequences for activating the subsequent HCR-assembled long tandem DNAzyme nanowires. The as-acquired DNAzyme catalyzed the successive cleavage of its substrates, leading to an amplified fluorescence readout. The sophisticated design of our CHA-HCR-DNAzyme scheme was systematically investigated in vitro and showed dramatically enhanced detection performance. As a general sensing strategy, this CHA-HCR-DNAzyme method enables the amplified analysis of miRNA and its accurate intracellular imaging in living cells, originating from their synergistic signal amplifications. This method shows great potential for analyzing trace amounts of biomarkers in various clinical research studies.