Au@Ag core-shell nanoparticles for microRNA-21 determination based on duplex-specific nuclease signal amplification and surface-enhanced Raman scattering


A novel surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) analysis strategy has been designed combining Au@DTNB@Ag core-shell nanoparticles (DTNB attachment on gold nanoparticles, then encapsulated in Ag shell nanoparticles named as ADANPs) and duplex-specific nuclease signal amplification (DSNSA) platform. Firstly, ADANPs and magnetic substrate of Fe3O4 nanoparticles were covalently attached to the 3′- and 5′- end of capture probe (CP) targeting miRNA-21. Upon the addition of target miRNA-21, these heteroduplexes were specifically cleaved by DSN and resulted in ADANPs that were released from the surface of Fe3O4 nanoparticles (Fe3O4 NPs). At the same time, miRNA-21 remained intact and can rehybridize another DNA probe to trigger the signal-amplifying reaction. Based on this principle, the developed SERS method exhibited good linearity in the range 0 to 1 nM for miRNA-21 with a limit of detection (LOD) of 0.084 fM and has an ability to differentiate even a single-base mismatched sequence on the target sequence or other miRNA sequence. The results provide a novel SERS method which can successfully been applied to the miRNA-21 detection in human serum.

a shows the synthesis of Fe3O4 NPs and the conjugation of Au@DTNB@Ag NPs (ADANPs) for the detection of miRNA-21, b shows the operating principle of DSN-assisted signal amplification strategy for miRNA detection based on Fe3O4@CP@ADA NPs

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We are grateful to the State Key Laboratories of Transducer Technology.


This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (no. 61875255) and the direction program of Hefei Center of Physical Science Technology (no. 2018ZYFX005).

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Correspondence to Aiwu Zhao.

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Xu, W., Zhao, A., Zuo, F. et al. Au@Ag core-shell nanoparticles for microRNA-21 determination based on duplex-specific nuclease signal amplification and surface-enhanced Raman scattering. Microchim Acta 187, 384 (2020).

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  • Au@DTNB@Ag core-shell nanoparticles
  • Surface-enhanced Raman scattering
  • miRNA-21
  • Duplex-specific nuclease
  • Human serum