Detecting small sequences of RNA in biological samples such as microRNA or viral RNA demands highly sensitive and specific methods. Here, a reconfigurable DNA origami template has been used where a chiral arrangement of gold nanorods on the structure can lead to the generation of strong circular dichroism (CD). Switching of the cross-like DNA structure is achieved by the addition of nucleic acid sequences, which arrests the structure in one of the possible chiral states by specific molecular recognition. A specific sequence can thus be detected through the resulting changes in the plasmonic CD spectrum. We show the sensitive and selective detection of a target RNA sequence from the hepatitis C virus genome. The RNA binds to a complementary sequence that is part of the lock mechanism, which leads to the formation of a defined state of the plasmonic system with a distinct optical response. With this approach, we were able to detect this specific RNA sequence at concentrations as low as 100 pm.
Keywords: DNA origami; RNA; chirality; plasmonics; sensing.
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