Effect of non-specific species competition from total RNA on the static mode hybridization response of nanomechanical assays of oligonucleotides.

PMID 24807191


We investigate here the nanomechanical response of microcantilever sensors in real-time for detecting a range of ultra-low concentrations of oligonucleotides in a complex background of total cellular RNA extracts from cell lines without labeling or amplification. Cantilever sensor arrays were functionalized with probe single stranded DNA (ssDNA) and reference ssDNA to obtain a differential signal. They were then exposed to complementary target ssDNA strands that were spiked in a fragmented total cellular RNA background in biologically relevant concentrations so as to provide clinically significant analysis. We present a model for prediction of the sensor behavior in competitive backgrounds with parameters that are indicators of the change in nanomechanical response with variation in the target and background concentration. For nanomechanical assays to compete with current technologies it is essential to comprehend such responses with eventual impact on areas like understanding non-coding RNA pharmacokinetics, nucleic acid biomarker assays and miRNA quantification for disease monitoring and diagnosis to mention a few. Additionally, we also achieved a femtomolar sensitivity limit for online oligonucleotide detection in a non-competitive environment with these sensors.