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Anal Chem. 2012 May 1;84(9):4192-8. doi: 10.1021/ac300778s. Epub 2012 Apr 18.

Molecular beacon lighting up on graphene oxide.

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Department of Chemistry, Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3G1, Canada.


A molecular beacon (MB) is comprised of a fluorophore and a quencher linked by a DNA hairpin. MBs have been widely used for homogeneous DNA detection. In addition to molecular quenchers, many nanomaterials such as graphene oxide (GO) also possess excellent quenching efficiency. Most reported fluorescent sensors relied on DNA probes physisorbed by GO, which may suffer from nonspecific probe displacement and false positive signal. In this work, we report the preparation and characterization of a MB using graphene oxide (GO) as quencher, where an amino and FAM (6-carboxyfluorescein) dual labeled DNA was covalently attached to GO via an amide linkage. A major challenge was to remove noncovalently attached probes due to strong DNA adsorption by GO. While DNA desorption was favored at low salt, high pH, high temperature, and by using organic solvents, the cDNA was required to achieve complete desorption of noncovalently linked DNA probes. The DNA adsorption energy was measured using isothermal titration calorimetry, revealing the heterogeneous nature of GO. The covalent probe has a detection limit of 2.2 nM using a sample volume of 0.05 mL. With a 2 mL sample, the detection limit can reach 150 pM. The covalent probe is highly resistant to nonspecific probe displacement and will find applications in serum and cellular samples where high probe stability is demanded.

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