Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 410, Issue 20, pp 4885–4893 | Cite as

An enzyme-free homogenous electrochemical assay for sensitive detection of the plasmid-mediated colistin resistance gene mcr-1

  • Bo Li
  • Zhixin Chai
  • Xiaohui Yan
  • Chunchen Liu
  • Bo Situ
  • Ye Zhang
  • Weilun Pan
  • Shihua Luo
  • Jianhua Liu
  • Lei ZhengEmail author
Research Paper


Antibiotic resistance associated with the mcr-1 gene of Gram-negative bacteria, which confers resistance to drugs of last resort and has the potential to spread via plasmids, is one of the most pressing issues facing global health today. Point-of-care testing for the mcr-1 gene is needed to aid in the identification of colistin resistance in the field and to control its horizontal transmission. Here, we report the successful development of an enzyme-free homogenous electrochemical strategy for sensitive detection of the antibiotic resistance gene mcr-1 using the hybridization chain reaction and mcr-1-specific toehold probe. The long double-stranded DNA polymer produced using this strategy could be detected by assessing the diffusion of methylene blue towards the surface of a screen-printed gold electrode. Under optimized conditions, a linear relationship was observed between the variation of peak current and the natural logarithm of the mcr-1 gene concentration in the range of 1 nM to 1 μM with a detection limit of 0.78 nM (S/N = 3). This enzyme-free, isothermal platform is a rapid, portable, disposable, and sensitive method for detection of plasmid-mediated colistin resistance.


Colistin Electrochemical assay Hybridization chain reaction Isothermal amplification Mcr-1 Resistance 



Atomic force microscopy


Differential pulse voltammetry


Double-stranded DNA


Hybridization chain reaction


Initiator strand


Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemase-2


Methylene blue


New Delhi metallo-β-lactamase-1


Screen-printed gold electrode


Single-stranded DNA


Toehold-mediated strand displacement


Unique Probe Selector


Funding information

This study was financed by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant numbers 81371901 and 81702100), the Science and Technology Planning Project of Guangdong Province (grant numbers 2013B021800314, 2014A050503040, and 2017A020215123), and the Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong Province (grant number 2015A030313293).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Supplementary material

216_2018_1130_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (208 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 207 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bo Li
    • 1
    • 2
  • Zhixin Chai
    • 1
    • 2
  • Xiaohui Yan
    • 3
  • Chunchen Liu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Bo Situ
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ye Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Weilun Pan
    • 1
    • 2
  • Shihua Luo
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jianhua Liu
    • 4
  • Lei Zheng
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Laboratory Medicine, Nanfang HospitalSouthern Medical UniversityGuangzhouChina
  2. 2.Guangdong Engineering and Technology Research Center for Rapid Diagnostic Biosensors, Nanfang HospitalSouthern Medical UniversityGuangzhouChina
  3. 3.Research Center of Clinical Medicine, Nanfang HospitalSouthern Medical UniversityGuangzhouChina
  4. 4.College of Veterinary Medicine, National Risk Assessment Laboratory for Antimicrobial Resistance of Microorganisms in AnimalsSouth China Agricultural UniversityGuangzhouChina

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