Colorimetric assessment of BCR-ABL1 transcripts in clinical samples via gold nanoprobes

Anal Bioanal Chem. 2016 Jul;408(19):5277-84. doi: 10.1007/s00216-016-9622-9. Epub 2016 May 25.


Gold nanoparticles functionalized with thiolated oligonucleotides (Au-nanoprobes) have been used in a range of applications for the detection of bioanalytes of interest, from ions to proteins and DNA targets. These detection strategies are based on the unique optical properties of gold nanoparticles, in particular, the intense color that is subject to modulation by modification of the medium dieletric. Au-nanoprobes have been applied for the detection and characterization of specific DNA sequences of interest, namely pathogens and disease biomarkers. Nevertheless, despite its relevance, only a few reports exist on the detection of RNA targets. Among these strategies, the colorimetric detection of DNA has been proven to work for several different targets in controlled samples but demonstration in real clinical bioanalysis has been elusive. Here, we used a colorimetric method based on Au-nanoprobes for the direct detection of the e14a2 BCR-ABL fusion transcript in myeloid leukemia patient samples without the need for retro-transcription. Au-nanoprobes directly assessed total RNA from 38 clinical samples, and results were validated against reverse transcription-nested polymerase chain reaction (RT-nested PCR) and reverse transcription-quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR). The colorimetric Au-nanoprobe assay is a simple yet reliable strategy to scrutinize myeloid leukemia patients at diagnosis and evaluate progression, with obvious advantages in terms of time and cost, particularly in low- to medium-income countries where molecular screening is not routinely feasible. Graphical abstract Gold nanoprobe for colorimetric detection of BCR-ABL1 fusion transcripts originating from the Philadelphia chromosome.

Keywords: Chronic myeloid leukemia; Colorimetric detection; Gold nanoparticles; Leukemia; RNA.

MeSH terms

  • Colorimetry / methods*
  • Fusion Proteins, bcr-abl / genetics*
  • Gold / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Leukemia, Myeloid / genetics*
  • Metal Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Molecular Probe Techniques
  • Molecular Probes / chemistry
  • RNA, Neoplasm / genetics*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA / methods*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • BCR-ABL1 fusion protein, human
  • Molecular Probes
  • RNA, Neoplasm
  • Transcription Factors
  • Gold
  • Fusion Proteins, bcr-abl