The bio-barcode assay for the detection of protein and nucleic acid targets using DTT-induced ligand exchange

Nat Protoc. 2006;1(1):324-36. doi: 10.1038/nprot.2006.51.


The recently developed bio-barcode assay for the detection of nucleic acid and protein targets without PCR has been shown to be extraordinarily sensitive, showing high sensitivity for both nucleic acid and protein targets. Two types of particles are used in the assay: (i) a magnetic microparticle with recognition elements for the target of interest; and (ii) a gold nanoparticle (Au-NP) with a second recognition agent (which can form a sandwich around the target in conjunction with the magnetic particle) and hundreds of thiolated single-strand oligonucleotide barcodes. After reaction with the analyte, a magnetic field is used to localize and collect the sandwich structures, and a DTT solution at elevated temperature is used to release the barcode strands. The barcode strands can be identified on a microarray via scanometric detection or in situ if the barcodes carry with them a detectable marker. The recent modification to the original bio-barcode assay method, utilizing DTT, has streamlined and simplified probe preparation and greatly enhanced the quantitative capabilities of the assay. Here we report the detailed methods for performing the ligand exchange bio-barcode assay for both nucleic acid and protein detection. In total, reagent synthesis, probe preparation and detection require 4 d.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Dithiothreitol / chemistry*
  • Gold / analysis
  • Gold / chemistry
  • Ligands
  • Magnetics
  • Metal Nanoparticles / analysis
  • Metal Nanoparticles / chemistry
  • Molecular Probe Techniques*
  • Nucleic Acids / analysis*
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Oligonucleotide Probes / analysis
  • Proteins / analysis*


  • Ligands
  • Nucleic Acids
  • Oligonucleotide Probes
  • Proteins
  • Gold
  • Dithiothreitol