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Pure Appl. Chem. Vol. 72, Nos. 1-2, pp. 229-235, 2000

Special Topic Issue on the Theme of
Nanostructured Systems


A gold nanoparticle/latex microsphere-based colorimetric oligonucleotide detection method

Robert A. Reynolds III, Chad A. Mirkin*, and Robert L. Letsinger

*Department of Chemistry and Center for Nanofabrication and Molecular Self-Assembly, Northwestern University, 2145 Sheridan Road, Evanston, Illinois 60208 USA

Abstract: An exceptionally simple and effective DNA detection methodology based on latex microsphere and gold nanoparticle probes has been developed. The latex and gold particle probes, which were functionalized with separate oligonucleotide sequences, undergo hybridization in the presence of target strands that are complementary to both of the probes. Duplex formation thus results in linking of gold nanoparticles to the latex microspheres and a corresponding white-to-red color change, which, because of the particularly large extinction coefficient of the gold nanoparticles, is clearly visible to the naked eye. Background signal caused by unbound gold nanoparticles is significantly reduced by filtering the solution containing the sample and probes through a size-selective cellulose acetate membrane. The unbound gold probes move freely through this membrane while the larger latex particles are trapped. Therefore, if the latex and gold nanoparticles are joined together via the target oligonucleotides, the membrane appears red, indicating a positive test result. If no hybridization takes place, the membrane appears white, indicating a negative result. The lower detection limits for this system are 500 pM for a 24 base single-stranded target and 2.5 nM for a duplex target oligonucleotide.

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