High-throughput living cell-based optical biosensor for detection of bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) using a red fluorescent protein reporter system

Sci Rep. 2016 Nov 14;6:36987. doi: 10.1038/srep36987.


Due to the high toxicity of bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS), resulting in sepsis and septic shock, two major causes of death worldwide, significant effort is directed toward the development of specific trace-level LPS detection systems. Here, we report sensitive, user-friendly, high-throughput LPS detection in a 96-well microplate using a transcriptional biosensor system, based on 293/hTLR4A-MD2-CD14 cells that are transformed by a red fluorescent protein (mCherry) gene under the transcriptional control of an NF-κB response element. The recognition of LPS activates the biosensor cell, TLR4, and the co-receptor-induced NF-κB signaling pathway, which results in the expression of mCherry fluorescent protein. The novel cell-based biosensor detects LPS with specificity at low concentration. The cell-based biosensor was evaluated by testing LPS isolated from 14 bacteria. Of the tested bacteria, 13 isolated Enterobacteraceous LPSs with hexa-acylated structures were found to increase red fluorescence and one penta-acylated LPS from Pseudomonadaceae appeared less potent. The proposed biosensor has potential for use in the LPS detection in foodstuff and biological products, as well as bacteria identification, assisting the control of foodborne diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / metabolism
  • Biosensing Techniques / methods*
  • Genes, Reporter
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-8 / metabolism
  • Lipopolysaccharide Receptors / genetics
  • Lipopolysaccharide Receptors / metabolism
  • Lipopolysaccharides / analysis*
  • Lipopolysaccharides / pharmacology
  • Luminescent Proteins / genetics
  • Luminescent Proteins / metabolism*
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Toll-Like Receptor 4 / genetics
  • Toll-Like Receptor 4 / metabolism
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism


  • Interleukin-8
  • Lipopolysaccharide Receptors
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Luminescent Proteins
  • NF-kappa B
  • Toll-Like Receptor 4
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • red fluorescent protein