Nucleic acid lateral flow assays using a conjugate of a DNA binding protein and carbon nanoparticles

Gülsen Betül Aktas, Jan H. Wichers, Vasso Skouridou, Aart van Amerongen, Lluis Masip*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Nucleic acid lateral flow assays (NALFA) are often performed with gold nanoparticles. These are typically associated with ligand-labeled PCR amplicons via affinity interactions of adsorbed/conjugated proteins. Otherwise, they are conjugated to specific ssDNA sequences that hybridize to the target sequence. To avoid the need to generate ssDNA and to reduce the costs associated with primer labeling and antibody use, NALFA assays were developed that allow the direct detection of PCR amplicons using conjugates of a DNA binding protein with carbon nanoparticles (CNPs). The target gene encoding 16S ribosomal RNA of Escherichia coli was amplified by PCR using a single fluorophore-labeled forward primer and a reverse primer extended with the binding sequence of the bacteriophage lambda Cro repressor protein. Three different detection approaches were evaluated: (a) scCro/CNPs conjugate (black color), (b) HRP-scCro enzyme conjugate (red color), and (c) HRP-scCro/CNPs conjugate for dual color development. The limits of detection were between 6.9 and 10.4 ng of PCR product for all three approaches. These correspond to 3.0 to 4.5 × 103 CFU·mL−1. The single-step scCro/CNP approach proved to be the fastest one to perform and gave no false-positive signals. It also showed a broad dynamic range even though the signal intensities were lower compared to the enzyme-amplified tests. However, the latter ones produced some background signal. In our perception, the application of scCro in lateral flow assays to bind dsDNA appears to be an excellent alternative to the use of small tags that have to be chemically linked to synthetic primers. Finally, the approach is generic because any primer sequence can be extended with the specific scCro binding sequence. [Figure not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish
Article number426
JournalMicrochimica acta
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019


  • Enzyme conjugate
  • Escherichia coli
  • Immunochromatographic test
  • Nucleic acid lateral flow assay
  • Signal enhancement
  • Single-chain Cro


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