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Simple and rapid methods for detecting mRNA biomarkers from patient samples are valuable in settings with limited access to laboratory resources. In this report, we describe the development and evaluation of a self-contained assay to extract and quantify mRNA biomarkers from complex samples using a novel nucleic acid-based molecular sensor called quadruplex priming amplification (QPA). QPA is a simple and robust isothermal nucleic acid amplification method that exploits the stability of the G-quadruplex nucleotide structure to drive spontaneous strand melting from a specific DNA template sequence. Quantification of mRNA was enabled by integrating QPA with a magnetic bead-based extraction method using an mRNA-QPA interface reagent. The assay was found to maintain >90% of the maximum signal over a 4 °C range of operational temperatures (64-68 °C). QPA had a dynamic range spanning four orders of magnitude, with a limit of detection of ~20 pM template molecules using a highly controlled heating and optical system and a limit of detection of ~250 pM using a less optimal water bath and plate reader. These results demonstrate that this integrated approach has potential as a simple and effective mRNA biomarker extraction and detection assay for use in limited resource settings.
Early-stage detection is essential for effective treatment of pediatric virus infections. In traditional -immuno-PCR, a single antibody recognition event is associated with one to three DNA tags, which are subsequently amplified by PCR. In this protocol, we describe a nanoparticle-amplified immuno-PCR assay that combines antibody recognition of traditional ELISA with a 50-fold nanoparticle valence amplification step followed by amplification by traditional PCR. The assay detects a respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) surface fusion protein using a Synagis antibody bound to a 15 nm gold nanoparticle co-functionalized with thiolated DNA complementary to a hybridized 76-base Tag DNA. The Tag DNA to Synagis ratio is 50 to 1. The presence of virus particles triggers the formation of a "sandwich" complex comprised of the gold nanoparticle construct, virus, and a 1 μm antibody-functionalized magnetic particle used for extraction. Virus-containing complexes are isolated using a magnet, DNA tags released by heating to 95 °C, and detected via real-time PCR. The limit of detection of the nanoparticle-amplified immuno-PCR assay was compared to traditional ELISA and traditional RT-PCR using RSV-infected HEp-2 cell extracts. Nanoparticle-amplified immuno-PCR showed a ∼4,000-fold improvement in the limit of detection compared to ELISA and a fourfold improvement in the limit of detection compared to traditional RT-PCR. Nanoparticle-amplified immuno-PCR offers a viable platform for the development of an early-stage diagnostics requiring an exceptionally low limit of detection.
Cell migration is controlled by the integration of numerous distinct components. Consequently, the analysis of cell migration is advancing towards comprehensive, multifaceted in vitro models. To accurately evaluate the contribution of an underlying substrate to cell motility in complex cellular environments we developed a migration assay using magnetically attachable stencils (MAts). When attached to a culture surface, MAts create a defined void in the cell monolayer without disrupting the cells or damaging the underlying substrate. Quantitative analysis of migration into this void reveals the substrate's contribution to migration. The magnetically-guided placement of a microfabricated stencil allows for full experimental control of the substrate on which migration is analyzed. MAts enable the evaluation of intact, defined matrix, and make it possible to analyze migration on unique surfaces such as micropatterned proteins, nano-textured surfaces, and pliable hydrogels. These studies also revealed that mechanical disruption, including the damage that occurs during scratch assays, diminishes migration and confounds the analysis of individual cell behavior. Analysis of migration on increasingly complex biomaterials reveals that the contribution of the underlying matrix depends not only on its molecular composition but also its organization and the context in which it is presented.
Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
The ring pattern resulting from the unique microfluidics in an evaporating coffee drop is a well-studied mass transport phenomenon generating interest in the research community mostly from a mechanistic perspective. In this report, we describe how biomarker-induced particle-particle assemblies, magnetic separation, and evaporation-driven ring formation can be combined for simple pathogen detection. In this assay design, the presence of biomarkers causes self-assembly of a magnetic nanoparticle and a fluorescently labeled micrometer-sized particle. A small spherical magnet under the center of the drop prevents these assemblies from migrating to the drop's edge while a nonreactive control particle flows to the edge forming a ring pattern. Thus the presence or absence of biomarker results in distinctly different distributions of particles in the dried drop. Proof-of-principle studies using poly-L-histidine, a peptide mimic of the malaria biomarker pfHRPII, show that the predicted particle distributions occur with a limit of detection of approximately 200-300 nM.
© 2011 American Chemical Society