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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Single Molecule Profiling of Molecular Recognition at a Model Electrochemical Biosensor

  • Author(s): Gu, Qufei
  • Nanney, Warren
  • Cao, Huan H
  • Wang, Haiyang
  • Ye, Tao
  • et al.

The spatial arrangement of target and probe molecules on the biosensor is a key aspect of the biointerface structure that ultimately determines the properties of interfacial molecular recognition and the performance of the biosensor. However, the spatial patterns of single molecules on practical biosensors have been unknown, making it difficult to rationally engineer biosensors. Here, we have used high-resolution atomic force microscopy to map closely spaced individual probes as well as discrete hybridization events on a functioning electrochemical DNA sensor surface. We also applied spatial statistical methods to characterize the spatial patterns at the single molecule level. We observed the emergence of heterogeneous spatiotemporal patterns of surface hybridization of hairpin probes. The clustering of target capture suggests that hybridization may be enhanced by proximity of probes and targets that are about 10 nm away. The unexpected enhancement was rationalized by the complex interplay between the nanoscale spatial organization of probe molecules, the conformational changes of the probe molecules, and target binding. Such molecular level knowledge may allow one to tailor the spatial patterns of the biosensor surfaces to improve the sensitivity and reproducibility.

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