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Using an external redox-active molecule as a DNA hybridization indicator is still a popular strategy in electrochemical DNA biosensors because it is label-free and the multi-site binding can enhance the response signal. A planar and uncharged transition metal complex, Cu(PA) (PA = picolinic acid) with excellent electrochemical activity has been synthesized and its interaction with double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) is studied by experimental electrochemical methods and theoretical molecular docking technology. The experimental results reveal that the copper complex interacts with dsDNA via specific intercalation, which is verified by the molecular docking result. The surface-based voltammetric analysis demonstrates that the planar Cu(PA) can effectively accumulate within the electrode-confined hybridized duplex DNA rather than the single-stranded probe DNA. Based on this phenomenon, the Cu(PA) is utilized as an electrochemical hybridization indicator for the detection of oligonucleotides. The sensing assays show that upon incubation in Cu(PA) solution, the probe electrode does not display any Faraday signal, but the hybridized one has a pair of strong redox peaks corresponding to the electrochemistry of Cu(PA), showing excellent hybridization indicating function of Cu(PA) without background interference. The signal intensity of Cu(PA) is dependent on the concentrations of the target oligonucleotide ranging from 1 fM to 100 nM with an experimental detection limit of 1.0 fM. Due to the specific intercalation of Cu(PA) with dsDNA, the biosensor also exhibits good ability to recognize oligonucleotide with different base mismatching degree.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Biosensors & bioelectronics
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