Polydopamine functionalized dendritic fibrous silica nanoparticles as a generic platform for nucleic acid-based biosensing

06 November 2023, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Accurate and rapid detection of nucleic acid sequences is of utmost importance in various fields, including disease monitoring, clinical treatment, gene analysis and drug discovery. In this study, we developed a "turn-on" fluorescence biosensor that enables simple and highly efficient detection of nucleic acid biomarkers. Our approach involves the utilization of 6-carboxyfluorescein modified single-stranded DNA (FAM-ssDNA) as molecular recognition element, along with polydopamine-functionalized dendritic fibrous nanosilica (DFNS). FAM-ssDNA serves as both specific molecular recognition element for target analyte and reporter capable of transducing a detectable signal through Watson-Crick base pairing. The polydopamine-functionalized DFNS (DFNS@DA) exhibits strong binding to FAM-ssDNA via polyvalent metal mediated coordination leading to effective quenching by fluorescence resonance energy transfer. In the presence of a complementary target sequence, FAM-ssDNA forms hybridized structure and detaches from DFNS@DA, which causes an increased fluorescence emission. The analytical system based on FAM-ssDNA and DFNS@DA demonstrates exceptional sensitivity, selectivity, and rapid response for the detection of nucleic acid sequences, leveraging the high adsorption and quenching properties of DFNS@DA. For the first proof of concept, we demonstrated the successful detection of microRNA (miR-21) in cancer cells using the FAM-ssDNA/DFNS@DA system. Our results highlight the promising capabilities of DFNS@DA and nucleic acid-based biosensors, offering a generic and cost-effective solution for the detection of nucleic acid-related biomarkers.



Supplementary materials

Electronic Supplementary Information
Experimental details for preparation of silica nanoparticles, characterization of materials and fluorescence assays.


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