Microchimica Acta

, Volume 184, Issue 5, pp 1305–1313 | Cite as

A universal electrochemical biosensor for the highly sensitive determination of microRNAs based on isothermal target recycling amplification and a DNA signal transducer triggered reaction

  • Lili Zhou
  • Jian Wang
  • Zhongping Chen
  • Junlong Li
  • Ting Wang
  • Zhang Zhang
  • Guoming Xie
Original Paper


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) play a considerable role in cancer occurrence and development, and have been identified as promising noninvasive biomarkers. The authors describe a voltammetric method for the determination of the cancer biomarker microRNA-21 (miRNA). It is based on a combination of a universal DNA signal transducer and isothermal target recycling amplification. A hairpin capture probe is bound to the target miRNA to form a duplex structure and to create a toehold in the transducer for initiating the target recycling amplification reaction. In contrast to traditional capture probes, a mismatched site is introduced to improve its ability to capture the target. In order to reduce the complex design procedures of the sequence and widen the applicability of this method, a signal transducer is introduced. Under optimal conditions, response to target miRNA is linear in the 0.5 to 2000 pM concentration range, with a 56 fM. detection limit (at an S/N ratio of 3). In order to characterize the process of target recycling and the stepwise modification of the electrode, real-time fluorescence, agarose gel electrophoresis, cyclic voltammetry, electrochemical impedance spectroscopy and chronocoulometry were used. The results indicate that this isothermal target recycling amplification results in an electrochemical biosensing scheme with wide potential for sensing other bioanalytes.

Graphical abstract

Schematic illustration of the electrochemical biosensing platform for miRNA-21 detection based on isothermal target recycling amplification and DNA signal transducer triggered strategy.


Cancer biomarker Isothermal target recycling DNA signal transduction Hairpin capture probe Catalytic hairpin assembly Electrochemical bioassay 



This work was financially supported by the Natural Science Research Foundation of China (No. 81672112), Chongqing medical scientific research projects (20142167) and the Chongqing Yuzhong District Science and Technology Project (20140108).

Compliance with ethical standards

The author(s) declare that they have no competing interests.

Supplementary material

604_2017_2129_MOESM1_ESM.docx (647 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 647 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lili Zhou
    • 1
  • Jian Wang
    • 1
  • Zhongping Chen
    • 2
  • Junlong Li
    • 1
  • Ting Wang
    • 1
  • Zhang Zhang
    • 1
  • Guoming Xie
    • 1
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Laboratory Medical Diagnostics, Ministry of Education, Department of Laboratory MedicineChongqing Medical UniversityChongqingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Department of Clinical LaboratoryChongqing Municipal Jiulongpo District the First People’s HospitalChongqingPeople’s Republic of China

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