A universal bacterial sensor created by integrating a light modulating aptamer complex with photoelectrochemical signal readout
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Photoelectrochemical (PEC) signal transduction is of great interest for ultrasensitive biosensing; however, signal-on PEC assays that do not require target labeling remain elusive. In this work, we developed a signal-on biosensor that uses nucleic acids to modulate PEC currents upon target capture. Target presence removes a biorecognition probe from a DNA duplex carrying a gold nanoparticle, bringing the gold nanoparticle in direct contact to the photoelectrode and increasing the PEC current. This assay was used to develop a universal bacterial detector by targeting peptidoglycan using an aptamer, demonstrating a limit-of-detection of 82 pg/mL (13 pM) in buffer and 239 pg/mL (37 pM) in urine for peptidoglycan and 1913 CFU/mL forEscherichia coliin urine. When challenged with a panel of unknown targets, the sensor identified samples with bacterial contamination versus fungi. The versatility of the assay was further demonstrated by analyzing DNA targets, which yielded a limit-of-detection of 372 fM.
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