Highly specific detection of KRAS single nucleotide polymorphism by asymmetric PCR/SERS assay

Nana Lyu, Vinoth Kumar Rajendran, Jun Li, Alexander Engel, Mark P. Molloy*, Yuling Wang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The molecular diagnosis of KRAS mutations has become crucial for clinical decision-making in colorectal cancer (CRC) treatments. Currently, the common methods for detecting mutations are based on quantitative PCR, DNA sequencing and droplet digital PCR (ddPCR), which require expensive specialized equipment and testing reagents. Herein, we propose a simple and specific strategy by integrating asymmetric PCR with surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (Asy-PCR/SERS) for the detection of KRAS G12V mutation, one of the most common driver mutations in CRC. To discriminate mutant targets from non-targets, Asy-PCR was applied to obtain single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) with unequal amounts of forward and reverse primers, subsequently, detection of the target mutant ssDNA amplicons was attempted by hybridization with Raman reporter-coded and allele-specific oligonucleotide-functionalized gold nanoparticles (SERS nanotags). The oligo encoding of the KRAS G12V mutant sequence could be identified by using a portable Raman spectrometer where the characteristic spectra of SERS nanotags indicate the presence of mutant targets. The Asy-PCR/SERS method showed high specificity and sensitivity for identifying as few as 0.1% mutant alleles of KRAS G12V mutation from non-target sequences. Using colorectal polyp biopsies, we demonstrated that Asy-PCR/SERS assay could distinguish KRAS G12V (c.35G > T) and KRAS G12D (c.35G > A) which occur at the same nucleotide location. As KRAS G12V is a driver oncogene in other cancers including lung, pancreatic, ovarian and endometrial cancers, the proposed assay shows great potential for application in additional tumor streams.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5714-5721
Number of pages8
JournalThe Analyst
Issue number18
Early online date14 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 21 Sept 2021


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