Microchimica Acta

, 185:286 | Cite as

Colorimetric and energy transfer based fluorometric turn-on method for determination of microRNA using silver nanoclusters and gold nanoparticles

  • Yasaman-Sadat Borghei
  • Morteza Hosseini
  • Mohammad Reza Ganjali
  • Huangxian Ju
Original Paper


The authors describe a dual (colorimetric and fluorometric) detection scheme for microRNA. The method is based on the use of fluorescent DNA-modified silver nanoclusters (DNA-AgNCs) and gold nanoparticles (AuNPs). The DNA-AgNCs were linked to AuNPs via the interaction of ssDNA-AgNC probes with AuNPs. This led to quenching of the fluorescence of the DNA-AgNCs (best measured at excitation/emission peaks of 370/450 nm) and also prevents salt-induced aggregation of the AuNPs. Upon addition of microRNA, the DNA on the AgNCs hybridizes with microRNA. This led to the formation of a DNA-AgNC/miRNA hetero-duplex and increase of the distance to the AuNPs. Quenching was suppressed and fluorescence was restored. The presence of microRNA also affected salt-induced particle aggregation as reflected by a color change from red to purple that is visible with bare eyes. The visual detection limit for microRNA is 0.6 nM, and the fluorometric detection limit is 0.4 pM.

Graphical abstract

Schematic of the colorimetric and fluorometric assay for microRNA (miRNA). It is based on the use of fluorescent DNA-modified silver nanoclusters (AgNCs) and gold nanoparticles (AuNPs).


Colorimetric analysis Fluorescent biosensing Energy transfer Deaggregation microRNA 



The authors thank the research Council of University of Tehran (Grant 28645/01/02) and NBIC Research Center for financial support of this work.

Compliance with ethical standards

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Supplementary material

604_2018_2825_MOESM1_ESM.doc (474 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 474 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Life Science Engineering, Faculty of New Sciences & TechnologiesUniversity of TehranTehranIran
  2. 2.Center of Excellence in Electrochemistry, Faculty of ChemistryUniversity of TehranTehranIran
  3. 3.Biosensor Research Center, Endocrinology & Metabolism Molecular-Cellular Sciences InstituteTehran University of Medical SciencesTehranIran
  4. 4.State Key Laboratory of Analytical Chemistry for Life Science, School of Chemistry and Chemical EngineeringNanjing UniversityNanjingPeople’s Republic of China

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