Rapid reliable diagnostics of DNA mutations are highly desirable in research and clinical assays. Current development in this field goes simultaneously in two directions: 1) high-throughput methods, and 2) portable assays. Non-enzymatic approaches are attractive for both types of methods since they would allow rapid and relatively inexpensive detection of nucleic acids. Modern fluorescence microscopy is having a huge impact on detection of biomolecules at previously unachievable resolution. However, no straightforward methods to detect DNA in a non-enzymatic way using fluorescence microscopy and nucleic acid analogues have been proposed so far.Here we report a novel enzyme-free approach to efficiently detect cancer mutations. This assay includes gene-specific target enrichment followed by annealing to oligonucleotides containing locked nucleic acids (LNAs) and finally, detection by fluorescence microscopy. The LNA containing probes display high binding affinity and specificity to DNA containing mutations, which allows for the detection of mutation abundance with an intercalating EvaGreen dye. We used a second probe, which increases the overall number of base pairs in order to produce a higher fluorescence signal by incorporating more dye molecules. Indeed we show here that using EvaGreen dye and LNA probes, genomic DNA containing BRAF V600E mutation could be detected by fluorescence microscopy at low femtomolar concentrations. Notably, this was at least 1000-fold above the potential detection limit.Overall, the novel assay we describe could become a new approach to rapid, reliable and enzyme-free diagnostics of cancer or other associated DNA targets. Importantly, stoichiometry of wild type and mutant targets is conserved in our assay, which allows for an accurate estimation of mutant abundance when the detection limit requirement is met. Using fluorescence microscopy, this approach presents the opportunity to detect DNA at single-molecule resolution and directly in the biological sample of choice.
View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0136720
View details for PubMedID 26312489