Transcription factors play a central role in cell development, differentiation and growth in biological systems due to their ability to regulate gene expression by binding to specific DNA sequences within the nucleus. The dysregulation of transcription factor signaling has been implicated in the pathogenesis of a number of cancers, developmental disorders, inflammation and autoimmunity. There is thus a high demand for convenient high-throughput methodologies able to detect sequence-specific DNA-binding proteins and monitor their DNA-binding activities. Traditional approaches for protein detection include gel mobility shift assays, DNA footprinting and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) which tend to be tedious, time-consuming, and may necessitate the use of radiographic labeling. By contrast, luminescence technologies offer the potential for rapid, sensitive and low-cost detection that are amenable to high-throughput and real-time analysis. The discoveries of molecular beacons and aptamers have spearheaded the development of new luminescent methodologies for the detection of proteins over the last decade. We survey here recent advances in the development of luminescent detection methods for DNA-binding proteins, including those based on molecular beacons, aptamer beacons, label-free techniques and exonuclease protection.
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