Employing double-stranded DNA probes on colloidal substrates for competitive hybridization events

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Baker, Bryan Alexander
Milam, Valeria T.
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The study of the DNA has found application beyond our understanding of its cellular function and into a variety of materials assembly and nucleic acid detection systems. The current research investigates double-stranded DNA probes in both a colloidal particle assembly and fluorescent assay format utilizing competitive hybridization events. In both contexts, the affinity of the dsProbes is tuned by the sequence design parameters of duplex length and complementarity. These systems were incubated with nucleic acid targets of interest and, based on the mechanism of competitive hybridization, were responsive to the presence of a high affinity competitive target. In the case of the particle assemblies, incubation with the competitive target resulted in observable disassembly of particle structures. In the case of fluorescently labeled dsProbes, incubation with competitive targets resulted in a quantifiable loss of fluorescence as determined by flow cytometry. Utilizing the fluorescently labeled dsProbe system, the kinetics of competitive hybridization was characterized for nucleic acid targets of varying specificity and strand context. The results indicate promise for the development of the competitive hybridization approach in nucleic acid detection systems providing advantages over current single-stranded probe designs. By utilizing a fluorescently labeled dsProbe approach, it is unnecessary to chemically modify the target of interest to impart a signaling mechanism. Additionally, as the process of competitive hybridization of dsProbes with targets of interest is an affinity driven process, discrimination of targets based on specificity is decoupled from standard measures such as elevated temperature protocols, an important step in translating nucleic acid technologies from the controlled laboratory environment to field applications.
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