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Ochmann, Sarah E.; Vietz, Carolin; Trofymchuk, Kateryna; Acuna, Guillermo P.; Lalkens, Birka; Tinnefeld, Philip (2017): Optical Nanoantenna for Single Molecule-Based Detection of Zika Virus Nucleic Acids without Molecular Multiplication. In: Analytical Chemistry, Vol. 89, No. 23: pp. 13000-13007
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Because of the limited signal-to-background ratio, molecular diagnostics requires molecular amplification of the target molecules or molecular signal amplification after target recognition. For direct molecular detection, we demonstrate a purely physical fluorescence enhancement process which can elevate the fluorescence signal of single fluorescent dyes by several orders of magnitude. To this end, DNA origami-based optical antennas with a height of around 125 nm are used, which utilize metallic nanoparticles to create a hotspot where fluorescence signals are enhanced by plasmonic effects. By equipping the hotspot with a molecular beacon-like structure, we combine the plasmonic signal enhancement with a specific signal generation, leading to an enhanced and therefore easy to detect signal only in the presence of the specific target nucleic acid. Exemplified with Zika virus detection, we show the applicability of this approach by detecting Zika-specific artificial DNA and RNA both in buffer and in heat-inactivated human blood serum. We show the sensitivity against small nucleotide variations of this approach, allowing the discrimination of closely related pathogens. Furthermore, we show how the modularity offered by DNA nanotechnology enables multiplexing by incorporating orthogonal fluorescent labels for the simultaneous detection of different sequences. The achieved signal enhancement will allow technically simplified signal detection, paving the way for single molecule-based point-of-care diagnosis.