Electrochemical detection of low-copy number salivary RNA based on specific signal amplification with a hairpin probe

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Abstract

We developed a technique for electrochemical detection of salivary mRNA employing a hairpin probe (HP). Steric hindrance (SH) suppresses unspecific signal and generates a signal-on amplification process for target detection. The stem-loop configuration brings the reporter end of the probe into close proximity with the surface and makes it unavailable for binding with the mediator. Target binding opens the hairpin structure of the probe, and the mediator can then bind to the accessible reporter. Horseradish peroxidase is utilized to generate electrochemical signal. This signal-on process is characterized by a low basal signal, a strong positive readout and a large dynamic range. The SH is controlled via hairpin design and electrical field. By applying electric field control to HPs, the limit of detection of RNA is about 0.4 fM, which is 10 000-fold more sensitive than conventional linear probes. Endogenous Interleukin-8 mRNA is detected with the HP, and good correlation with the quantitative PCR technique is obtained. The resultant process allows a simple setup and by reducing the number of steps it is suited for the point-of-care detection of specific nucleic acid sequences from complex body fluids such as saliva.

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