Highly Selective FRET-Aided Single-Molecule Counting of MicroRNAs Labeled by Splinted Ligation

Sihwa Joo, Ui Jin Lee, Hye Young Son, Moonil Kim, Yong Min Huh, Tae Geol Lee, Mina Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short non-coding RNAs that play an important role in regulating gene expression. Since miRNAs are abnormally expressed in various cancers, they are considered to be promising biomarkers for early cancer diagnosis. However, the short length and strong sequence similarity among miRNAs make their reliable quantification very challenging. We developed a highly selective amplification-free miRNA detection method based on Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET)-aided single-molecule counting. miRNAs were selectively labeled with FRET probes using splinted ligation. When imaged with a single-molecule FRET setup, the miRNA molecules were accurately identified by the probe's FRET. miRNA concentrations were estimated from the count of molecules. The high sensitivity of the method in finding sparse molecules enabled us to achieve a limit of detection of 31-56 amol for miR-125b, miR-100, and miR-99a. Single nucleotide mismatch could be discriminated with a very high target-to-mismatch ratio. The method accurately measured the high expression of miR-125b in gastric cancer cells, which agreed well with previous reports. The high sensitivity and accuracy of this technique demonstrated its clinical potential as a robust miRNA detection method.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3409-3415
Number of pages7
JournalACS Sensors
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Nov 25

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 American Chemical Society. All rights reserved.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Bioengineering
  • Instrumentation
  • Process Chemistry and Technology
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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