Preliminary Data on a SERS-Responsive Sensor Based on Metallic Nanostructures Functionalized by Aptamers Specific for Arsenic

Preliminary Data on a SERS-Responsive Sensor Based on Metallic Nanostructures Functionalized by Aptamers Specific for Arsenic

Domenica Musumeci, Daniela Montesarchio, Elisa Scatena, Costantino Del Gaudio, Fabio De Matteis, Roberto Francini, Mauro Casalboni

Abstract. Arsenic, in the form of arsenate (AsV) and arsenite (AsIII), is a toxic carcinogen widely distributed in aqueous environments in many parts of the world. Efficient arsenic sensors in terms of sensitivity, selectivity, speed and portability are urgently needed. The present research was focused on the development of a gold nanostructured sensor, functionalized with organic molecules able to selectively bind arsenic, for SERS detection. As organic molecule, we here selected oligonucleotide aptamers specific for arsenic recognition relying on previous studies on a 100-mer arsenic-binding DNA aptamer (Ars3), selected for its highest affinity and specificity to arsenate and arsenite. The aptamer Ars3 was previously used as such in its whole sequence and no attempt to optimize it, in terms of size and sensor efficiency, or to unravel its binding mechanism with arsenic has been carried out. Furthermore, even if in the previously proposed Ars3-based sensors a low detection limit for As was achieved, the assembly of the probe and the detection methodologies were in most cases very complex and not suitable for the development of portable in situ devices. Thus, in order to optimize Ars3 and investigate its interaction with arsenic, we here designed shorter DNA sequences cutting the 3’ and 5’ ends of the parent aptamer, and carried out spectroscopic and electrophoretic analysis together with arsenic-binding assays by using a suitably functionalized affinity resin. In addition, a specific SERS-responsive system with the Ars3 parent aptamer was considered in view of its application with the modified DNA sequences here proposed. Collected findings highlighted that the parent aptamer did not bind arsenic with high affinity. This was also in agreement with very recent results, published concomitantly with our studies, which stated that Ars3 was not able to bind As and that all the positive binding data using Ars3 were due to the use of gold supports (SPR chips or gold nanoparticles) which tightly bound arsenic. Based on these results, no arsenic-binding DNA aptamers are currently known, thus underlining the need for actual arsenic binding aptamers to be implemented for SERS sensors.

Arsenic Detection, SERS, Oligonucleotide Aptamers

Published online 2/25/2020, 10 pages

Citation: Domenica Musumeci, Daniela Montesarchio, Elisa Scatena, Costantino Del Gaudio, Fabio De Matteis, Roberto Francini, Mauro Casalboni, Preliminary Data on a SERS-Responsive Sensor Based on Metallic Nanostructures Functionalized by Aptamers Specific for Arsenic, Materials Research Proceedings, Vol. 16, pp 46-55, 2020


Part of the book on Photonics and Photoactive Materials

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