Microchimica Acta

, 185:301 | Cite as

Colorimetric detection of DNA at the nanomolar level based on enzyme-induced gold nanoparticle de-aggregation

  • Qingling Liu
  • Li Li
  • Yan Zhao
  • Zhengbo Chen
Original Paper


The authors describe a colorimetric method for the determination of DNA based on the deaggregation of gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) induced by exonuclease III (Exo III). DNA amplification is accomplished by Exo III to generate large quantities of the residual DNA. Residual DNA tethers onto the surfaces of AuNPs which prevents their aggregation. Hence, the color of the solution is red. However, in the absence of DNA, salt-induced aggregation is not prevented, and the bluish-purple color of the aggregated AuNPs is observed. The ratio of absorbances at 525 and 625 nm increases up to 150 nM DNA concentrations, and the LOD is as low as 3.0 nM. It is shown that the presence of 300 nM concentrations of random DNA (with a mass up to 10-fold that of target DNA) does not interfere. The method was successfully applied to the analysis of DNA in spiked serum samples. The method is simple, reliable, and does not require complicated amplification steps and expensive instrumentation.

Graphical abstract

Schematic of a sensing strategy for DNA detection by exonuclease III-induced deaggregation of gold nanoparticles. DNA concentrations as  low as 3 nM can be detected via colorimetric monitoring of the color change from red to purple-blue.


Exonuclease III Nucleic acid detection Colorimetric assay DNA recycling Amplification Absorbance Serum samples 



All authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support of Scientific Research Project of Beijing Educational Committee (Grant No. KM201710028009).

Compliance with ethical standards

The author(s) declare that they have no competing interests.

Supplementary material

604_2018_2833_MOESM1_ESM.doc (1.3 mb)
ESM 1 (DOC 1337 kb)


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Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Chemistry and Chemical EngineeringXinxiang UniversityXinxiangChina
  2. 2.Department of ChemistryCapital Normal UniversityBeijingChina

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