Amplification-Free SARS-CoV-2 Detection Using Nanoyeast-scFv and Ultrasensitive Plasmonic Nanobox-Integrated Nanomixing Microassay

Anal Chem. 2021 Jul 27;93(29):10251-10260. doi: 10.1021/acs.analchem.1c01657. Epub 2021 Jul 15.


The implementation of accurate and sensitive molecular detection for the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is paramount to effectively control the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. In this regard, we herein propose the specific and highly sensitive SARS-CoV-2 detection based on nanoyeast single-chain-variable fragment (scFv) and ultrasensitive plasmonic nanobox-integrated nanomixing microassay. Importantly, this designed platform showcases the utility of nanoyeast-scFvs as specific capture reagents targeting the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the virus and as monoclonal antibody alternatives suitable for cost-effective mass production and frequent testing. By capitalizing on single-particle active nanoboxes as plasmonic nanostructures for surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS), the microassay utilizes highly sensitive Raman signals to indicate virus infection. The developed microassay further integrated nanomixing for accelerating molecular collisions. Through the synergistic working of nanoyeast-scFv, plasmonic nanoboxes, and nanomixing, the highly specific and sensitive SARS-CoV-2 detection is achieved as low as 17 virus/μL without any molecular amplification. We successfully demonstrate SARS-CoV-2 detection in saliva samples of simulated patients at clinically relevant viral loads, suggesting the possibility of this platform for accurate and noninvasive patient screening.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Humans
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Saliva
  • Single-Chain Antibodies*
  • Spectrum Analysis, Raman


  • Single-Chain Antibodies