Sensitive and selective detection of microRNAs (miRNAs) in cancer cells derived exosomes have attracted rapidly growing interest owing to their potential in diagnostic and prognostic applications. Here, researchers from the Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University design a ratiometric electrochemical biosensor based on bipedal DNA walkers for the attomolar detection of exosomal miR-21. In the presence of miR-21, DNA walkers are activated to walk continuously along DNA tracks, resulting in conformational changes as well as considerable increases of the signal ratio produced by target-respond and target-independent reporters. With the signal cascade amplification of DNA walkers, the biosensor exhibits ultrahigh sensitivity with the limit of detection (LOD) down to 67 aM. Furthermore, owing to the background-correcting function of target-independent reporters termed as reference reporters, the biosensor is robust and stable enough to be applied in the detection of exosomal miR-21 extracted from breast cancer cell lines and serums. In addition, because locked nucleic acid (LNA) modified toehold mediate strand displacement reaction (TMSDR) has extraordinary discriminative ability, the biosensor displays excellent selectivity even against the single-base-mismatched target. It is worth mentioning that our sensor is regenerative and stable for at least 5 cycles without diminution in sensitivity. In brief, the high sensitivity, selectivity and reproducibility, together with cheap, make the proposed biosensor a promising approach for exosomal miRNAs detection, in conjunction with early point-of-care testing (POCT) of cancer.
Schematic illustration of the ratiometric electrochemical biosensor for exosomal miR-21detection