Label free electrical detection of DNA hybridisation for the example of influenza virus gene sequences
Microarrays based on DNA–DNA hybridization are potentially useful for detecting and subtyping viruses but require fluorescence labeling and imaging equipment. We investigated a label-free electrical detection system using electrochemical impedance spectroscopy that is able to detect hybridization of DNA target sequences derived from avian H5N1 influenza virus to gold surface-attached singlestranded DNA oligonucleotide probes. A 23-nt probe is able to detect a 120-nt base fragment of the influenza A hemagglutinin gene sequence. We describe a novel method of data analysis that is compatible with automatic measurement without operator input, contrary to curve fitting used in conventional electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) data analysis. A systematic investigation of the detection signal for various spacer molecules between the oligonucleotide probe and the gold surface revealed that the signal/background ratio improves as the length of the spacer increases, with a 12- to 18-atom spacer element being optimal. The optimal spacer molecule allows a detection limit between 30 and 100 fmol DNA with a macroscopic gold disc electrode of 1 mm radius. The dependence of the detection signal on the concentration of a 23-nt target follows a binding curve with an approximate 1:1 stoichiometry and a dissociation constant of Kp = 13 ± 4 nM at 295 K.