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Anal Chem. 2013 Feb 5;85(3):1932-9. doi: 10.1021/ac303426b. Epub 2013 Jan 18.

Direct detection of bacterial genomic DNA at sub-femtomolar concentrations using single molecule arrays.

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Quanterix Corporation, 113 Hartwell Avenue, Lexington, Massachusetts 02421, United States.


We report a method for the sensitive measurement of genomic DNA based on the direct detection of single molecules of DNA in arrays of femtoliter wells. The method begins by generating short fragments of DNA from large, double-stranded molecules of genomic DNA using either restriction enzymes or sonication. Single-stranded fragments are then generated by melting the duplex, and these fragments are hybridized to complementary biotinylated detection probes and capture probes on paramagnetic beads. The resulting DNA complexes are then labeled with an enzyme (streptavidin-β-galactosidase), and single enzymes associated with these complexes on beads are detected in single molecule arrays (Simoa). DNA concentration is quantified by determining the average number of enzymes per bead via Poisson statistics (digital) or the average bead intensity (analog). The Simoa DNA assay was used to detect genomic DNA purified from S. aureus with an average limit of detection (LOD) of 0.07 fM, or 2100 DNA molecules per 50 μL sample. We used this assay to detect S. aureus spiked into (a) whole blood, with an average LOD of 1100 bacteria per 25 μL sample (0.074 fM), and (b) water from the Charles River, with an LOD of 1300 bacteria per 50 μL sample (0.042 fM). Bacteria were detected in river water without prior purification of DNA. The Simoa DNA assay, which directly detects target DNA molecules without molecular replication, is an attractive alternative to existing sensitive DNA detection technologies that rely on amplification using polymerases, such as the polymerase chain reaction (PCR).

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