Gold-Aptamer-Nanoconstructs Engineered to Detect Conserved Enteroviral Nucleic Acid Sequences

Enteroviruses are a ubiquitous mammalian pathogen that can produce mild to life-threatening disease. Bearing this in mind, we have developed a rapid, accurate and economical point-of-care biosensor that can detect a nucleic acid sequences conserved amongst 96% of all known enteroviruses. The biosensor harnesses the physicochemical properties of gold nanoparticles and aptamers to provide colourimetric, spectroscopic and lateral flow-based identification of an exclusive enteroviral RNA sequence (23 bases), which was identified through in silico screening. Aptamers were designed to demonstrate specific complementarity towards the target enteroviral RNA to produce aggregated gold-aptamer nanoconstructs. Conserved target enteroviral nucleic acid sequence (≥ 1x10-7 M, ≥1.4×10-14 g/mL), initiates gold-aptamer-nanoconstructs disaggregation and a signal transduction mechanism, producing a colourimetric and spectroscopic blueshift (544 nm (purple) > 524 nm (red)). Furthermore, lateral-flow-assays that utilise gold-aptamer-nanoconstructs were unaffected by contaminating human genomic DNA, demonstrated rapid detection of conserved target enteroviral nucleic acid sequence (< 60 s) and could be interpreted with a bespoke software and hardware electronic interface. We anticipate our methodology will translate in-silico screening of nucleic acid databases to a tangible enteroviral desktop detector, which could be readily translated to related organisms. This will pave-the-way forward in the clinical evaluation of disease and complement existing strategies at overcoming antimicrobial resistance.