Sensitive electrochemical monitoring of nucleic acids coupling DNA nanostructures with hybridization chain reaction

Junyang Zhuang, Libing Fu, Mingdi Xu, Huanghao Yang, Guonan Chen, Dianping Tang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


Methods based on metal nanotags have been developed for metallobioassay of nucleic acids, but most involve complicated labeling or stripping procedures and are unsuitable for routine use. Herein, we report the proof-of-concept of a novel and label-free metallobioassay for ultrasensitive electronic determination of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-related gene fragments at an ultralow concentration based on target-triggered long-range self-assembled DNA nanostructures and DNA-based hybridization chain reaction (HCR). The signal is amplified by silver nanotags on the DNA duplex. The assay mainly consists of capture probe, detection probe, and two different DNA hairpins. In the presence of target DNA, the capture probe immobilized on the sensor sandwiches target DNA with the 3' end of detection probe. Another exposed part of detection probe at the 5' end opens two alternating DNA hairpins in turn, and propagates a chain reaction of hybridization events to form a nicked double-helix. Finally, numerous silver nanotags are immobilized onto the long-range DNA nanostructures, each of which produces a strong electronic signal within the applied potentials. Under optimal conditions, the target-triggered long-range DNA nanostructures present good electrochemical behaviors for the detection of HIV DNA at a concentration as low as 0.5. fM. Importantly, the outstanding sensitivity can make this approach a promising scheme for development of next-generation DNA sensors without the need of enzyme labeling or fluorophore labeling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-23
Number of pages7
JournalAnalytica Chimica Acta
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Electrochemical sensor
  • Hybridization chain reaction
  • Metal silver nanotags
  • Metallobioassay
  • Nucleic acid


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