Label-free detection of nucleic acid and protein microarrays by scanning Kelvin nanoprobe
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A high-resolution scanning Kelvin nanoprobe is introduced as an alternative technique to the conventional fluorescence and mass spectrometric detection methods currently employed in nucleic acid and protein microarray technology. The new instrument is capable of the highly sensitive discernment of surface biochemical events taking place at molecular level such as nucleic acid hybridization and antibody-antigen interaction. The method involves measurement of changes in work function and surface potential instigated by such interactions. Being a label-free and non-contact technique, the structure, spatial configuration, local properties or function of the molecular system under study are not affected, nor perturbed by intercalating dyes, a strong electric field or ionizing beam. Subsequent to scanning, the microarray can be examined by other alternative approaches. Nucleic acids and proteins have been printed in microarray format on slides with a gold film in place using gold-sulphur interactive chemistry. Hybridization of nucleic acids for complementary and mismatched configurations shows consistent and reproducible values of work function. Differentiation of single internal mismatches is demonstrated. Protein concentration and formation of antibody-antigen pairs can be visualized and examined with high sensitivity and good inter-spot reproducibility.
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