Direct and sensitive detection of circulating miRNA in human serum by ligase-mediated amplification

Hei Nga Chan, See Lok Ho, Dinggeng He, Hung Wing Li*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


MicroRNAs (miRNA) involve in regulating different physiological processes whose dysregulation is associated with a wide range of diseases including cancers, diabetes and cardiovascular problems. Herein, we report a direct, sensitive and highly selective detection assay for circulating microRNA (miRNA). This detection strategy employs magnetic nanoparticles as the reaction platform which can not only allow online pre-concentration and selective separation but also integrates ligation reaction with amplification to enhance the sensitivity of the detection assay. With the presence of the target miRNA, the locked nucleic acid (LNA)-modified molecular beacon (MB) opens up, exposing the binding sites at two ends. The 3’- and 5’-end of the MB responsible for the attachment onto the magnetic nanoparticles, and reporting probe for the attachment of the pair of amplification probes respectively. The ligase ligate RNA to DNA enhance the amplification efficiency. Upon labelled with intercalating fluorophores (YOYO-1) on the hybrids, the quantification of the target miRNA was determined by measuring the fluorescence intensity. A detection limit of 314 fM was achieved with trace amount of sample consumption (~20 μL). As a proof of concept, miRNA-149 was chosen as the target miRNA. This assay is capable of discriminating single-base and reliably quantifying circulating miRNA-149 in both healthy and cancer patient's serums. The result obtained was comparable with that of quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR), suggesting that this direct and sensitive assay can be served as a promising, non-invasive tool for early diagnosis of breast cancer and colorectal cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Article number120217
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Analytical Chemistry

User-Defined Keywords

  • Circulating microRNAs
  • Early cancer diagnosis
  • Ligation amplification
  • Magnetic nanoprobe


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