Research ArticleGENETICS

Cellular microRNA detection with miRacles: microRNA- activated conditional looping of engineered switches

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Science Advances  13 Mar 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 3, eaau9443
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aau9443


MicroRNAs are short noncoding regulatory RNAs that are increasingly used as disease biomarkers. Detection of microRNAs can be arduous and expensive and often requires amplification, labeling, or radioactive probes. Here, we report a single-step, nonenzymatic microRNA detection assay using conformationally responsive DNA nanoswitches. Termed miRacles (microRNA-activated conditional looping of engineered switches), our assay has subattomole sensitivity and single-nucleotide specificity using an agarose gel electrophoresis readout. We detect cellular microRNAs from nanogram-scale RNA extracts of differentiating muscle cells and multiplex our detection for several microRNAs from one biological sample. We demonstrate 1-hour detection without expensive equipment or reagents, making this assay a compelling alternative to quantitative polymerase chain reaction and Northern blotting.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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