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Anal Chem. 2012 Jul 3;84(13):5535-41. doi: 10.1021/ac300182w. Epub 2012 Jun 21.

Mass amplifying probe for sensitive fluorescence anisotropy detection of small molecules in complex biological samples.

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Key Laboratory of Analytical Science, Department of Chemical Biology, College of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Xiamen University, Xiamen 361005, China.


Fluorescence anisotropy (FA) is a reliable and excellent choice for fluorescence sensing. One of the key factors influencing the FA value for any molecule is the molar mass of the molecule being measured. As a result, the FA method with functional nucleic acid aptamers has been limited to macromolecules such as proteins and is generally not applicable for the analysis of small molecules because their molecular masses are relatively too small to produce observable FA value changes. We report here a molecular mass amplifying strategy to construct anisotropy aptamer probes for small molecules. The probe is designed in such a way that only when a target molecule binds to the probe does it activate its binding ability to an anisotropy amplifier (a high molecular mass molecule such as protein), thus significantly increasing the molecular mass and FA value of the probe/target complex. Specifically, a mass amplifying probe (MAP) consists of a targeting aptamer domain against a target molecule and molecular mass amplifying aptamer domain for the amplifier protein. The probe is initially rendered inactive by a small blocking strand partially complementary to both target aptamer and amplifier protein aptamer so that the mass amplifying aptamer domain would not bind to the amplifier protein unless the probe has been activated by the target. In this way, we prepared two probes that constitute a target (ATP and cocaine respectively) aptamer, a thrombin (as the mass amplifier) aptamer, and a fluorophore. Both probes worked well against their corresponding small molecule targets, and the detection limits for ATP and cocaine were 0.5 μM and 0.8 μM, respectively. More importantly, because FA is less affected by environmental interferences, ATP in cell media and cocaine in urine were directly detected without any tedious sample pretreatment. Our results established that our molecular mass amplifying strategy can be used to design aptamer probes for rapid, sensitive, and selective detection of small molecules by means of FA in complex biological samples.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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