The detection of next generation microRNA (miRNA) biomarkers has become a highly important aspect for clinical diagnostics. We use multiplexed Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) between a luminescent Tb complex and three different semiconductor quantum dots (QDs) to sensitively detect three different miRNAs from a single 150 μL sample with ca. 1 nM (subpicomol) detection limits. The rapid and amplification-free mix-and-measure assay format is based on careful design of miRNA base pairing and stacking to selectively detect different miRNAs with very strong sequence homologies. Clinical applicability is demonstrated by sensitive multiplexed quantification of three miRNAs at low (2 to 10 nM) and varying concentrations in samples that contained up to 10% serum.
Keywords: FRET; clinical diagnostics; miRNA; multiplexing; nanocrystals; terbium.