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A molecular switch was prepared by self-assembly. Neutravidin served as a template that allowed for a biotinylated probe oligonucleotide to be placed adjacent to a biotinylated long-chain linker that was terminated with thiazole orange (TO). Hybridization of probe oligonucleotide with target to form double-stranded DNA resulted in intercalation of the adjacent TO probe. This was a reversible process that could be tracked by fluorescence intensity changes. Formamide was used as a denaturant for double-stranded DNA, and could be used to depress thermal denaturation temperatures. In this work formamide had a dual function, providing for control of hybridization selectivity at room temperature, while concurrently ameliorating non-specific adsorption to improve signal-to-noise when using thiazole orange as a fluorescence signalling agent to determine oligonucleotide hybridization. Room temperature single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) discrimination for oligonucleotide targets was achieved both in solution and for molecular switches that were immobilized onto optical fibers. In solution, a concentration of 18.5% formamide provided greater than 40-fold signal difference between single-stranded DNA and double-stranded DNA, in contrast to only a 2-fold difference in the absence of formamide. Selectivity for SNP determination in solution was demonstrated using targets of varying lengths including a 141-base PCR amplicon. The improved signal-to-noise achieved by use of formamide is likely due to preferential displacement of dye molecules that are otherwise electrostatically bound to the polyanionic nucleic acid backbone.
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► A molecular switch triggered by oligonucleotide hybridization is evaluated.
► Chaotrope suppresses undesired electrostatic binding of intercalating dye.
► Chaotrope concurrently allows single base mismatch discrimination.
► Operation at room temperature and in solid-phase assay is reported.
Journal: Analytica Chimica Acta - Volume 750, 31 October 2012, Pages 182–190