Click Chemical Ligation-Initiated On-Bead DNA Polymerization for the Sensitive Flow Cytometric Detection of 3′-Terminal 2′-O-Methylated Plant MicroRNA


A versatile flow cytometric strategy is developed for the sensitive detection of plant microRNA (miRNA) by coupling the target-templated click nucleic acid ligation (CNAL) with on-bead terminal enzymatic DNA polymerization (TEP). Unlike ligase-catalyzed ligation reaction, the plant miRNA-templated enzyme-free CNAL between two single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) probes, respectively modified with Aza-dibenzocyclooctyne (Aza-DBCO) and N<sub>3</sub>, can not only simplify the operation, but also achieve a much higher ligation efficiency. More importantly, the undesirable nonspecific ligation between the Aza-DBCO- and N<sub>3</sub>-modified ssDNA, can be effectively eliminated by adding Tween-20, which allows the use of cycling CNAL (CCNAL) in a background-free manner. So each plant miRNA can template many rounds of CNAL reaction to produce numerous ligation products, forming efficient signal amplification. The ligated ssDNA can be anchored on the magnetic beads (MBs) with the 3′-OH termini exposed outside. Then terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase (TdT), a sequence-independent and template-free polymerase, would specifically catalyze the DNA polymerization along these 3′-OH termini on the MBs, forming poly­(T) tails up to thousands of nucleotides long. Each poly­(T) tail allows specific binding of numerous 6-carboxyfluorescein (FAM)-labeled poly­(A)­25 oligonucleotides to accumulate a lot of fluorophores on the MBs, leading to the second step of signal amplification. By integrating the advantages of CCNAL-TEP for highly efficient signal amplification and robust MBs signal readout with powerful flow cytometer, high sensitivity is achieved and the detection limit of plant miRNA has been pushed down to a low level of 5 fM with high specificity to well discriminate even single-base difference between miRNA targets

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