This study strategically fabricates a nucleic acid functionalized gold nanoparticle and graphene oxide composite probe (AuNP/GO probe) to achieve both the recognition and in situ monitoring of cytoplasmic target precursor microRNAs (pre-miRNAs) and mature microRNAs (miRNAs) in living cells. The pre-miRNA-21 detection with AuNP probes has a good linear range of 0-300 nM and a limit of detection (LOD) of 4.5 nM, whereas the GO probe has a linear relationship with mature miRNA-21 from 0.1 to 10 nM with a LOD of 1.74 nM. This assay was utilized to directly visualize the relative expression levels of pre- and mature forms of miRNA-21 and let-7a. The results suggested that the expression levels of precursor miRNAs remain constant in cancer cells and normal cells. However, the expression levels of mature miRNAs vary widely, demonstrating the "up-regulation" of miRNA-21 and "down-regulation" of let-7a in cancer cells in contrast to that in normal cells. The practicality of this strategy was verified by in situ monitoring changes in cytoplasmic pre-miRNA-21 and mature miRNA-21 in response to small-molecule inhibitors of miRNA-21.
Keywords: Fluorescence imaging; Mature microRNAs; Nanocomposite probe; Precursor microRNAs.
Copyright © 2018 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.