Progress of metal nanoclusters in nucleic acid detection

Dalton Trans. 2021 Dec 20;51(1):27-39. doi: 10.1039/d1dt03183j.


The development and application of metal nanoclusters (MNCs) in nucleic acid testing in the past 10 years have been summarized. Fluorescence enhancement and red shift can occur when the G-rich sequence gets close to Ag NCs or the complementary DNA strand hybridizes with Ag NCs tail strand, which can be used to identify the nucleic acid. Ag NCs with the abasic site in DNA duplex can distinguish mutant genes such as cancer suppression gene p53. Ag NCs with auxiliary DNA can be used to detect miR-21, miR-16-5p, miR-19b-3p, and miR-141. Cu NCs/Cu NPs can recognize miRNA-155, miR-21, and miR-let-7d without auxiliary DNA. Au NCs can identify H1N1 gene fragments by fluorescence quenching caused by proximity to the G-rich sequence. Besides, Au NCs can recognize miRNA-21 and let-7a. SsDNA MNCs adsorbed on the surface of GO and CNPs oxide can be used to identify HBV and HIV gene fragments. The addition of enzymes or auxiliary amplification technologies is a popular way to improve probe sensitivity. Ag NCs combined with TAIEA has the best performance and can obtain LOD as low as aM for miRNA.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Metals, Heavy / chemistry*
  • MicroRNAs / analysis*
  • Nanostructures / chemistry*


  • Metals, Heavy
  • MicroRNAs