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Electrically Guided DNA Immobilization and Multiplexed DNA Detection with Nanoporous Gold Electrodes


Molecular diagnostics have significantly advanced the early detection of diseases, where the electrochemical sensing of biomarkers (e.g., DNA, RNA, proteins) using multiple electrode arrays (MEAs) has shown considerable promise. Nanostructuring the electrode surface results in higher surface coverage of capture probes and more favorable orientation, as well as transport phenomena unique to nanoscale, ultimately leading to enhanced sensor performance. The central goal of this study is to investigate the influence of electrode nanostructure on electrically-guided immobilization of DNA probes for nucleic acid detection in a multiplexed format. To that end, we used nanoporous gold (np-Au) electrodes that reduced the limit of detection (LOD) for DNA targets by two orders of magnitude compared to their planar counterparts, where the LOD was further improved by an additional order of magnitude after reducing the electrode diameter. The reduced electrode diameter also made it possible to create a np-Au MEA encapsulated in a microfluidic channel. The electro-grafting reduced the necessary incubation time to immobilize DNA probes into the porous electrodes down to 10 min (25-fold reduction compared to passive immobilization) and allowed for grafting a different DNA probe sequence onto each electrode in the array. The resulting platform was successfully used for the multiplexed detection of three different biomarker genes relevant to breast cancer diagnosis.

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