Gene quantification by the NanoGene assay is resistant to inhibition by humic acids

Gha Young Kim, Xiaofang Wang, Hosang Ahn, Ahjeong Son

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NanoGene assay is a magnetic bead and quantum dot nanoparticles based gene quantification assay. It relies on a set of probe and signaling probe DNAs to capture the target DNA via hybridization. We have demonstrated the inhibition resistance of the NanoGene assay using humic acids laden genomic DNA (gDNA). At 1 μg of humic acid per mL, quantitiative PCR (qPCR) was inhibited to 0% of its quantification capability whereas NanoGene assay was able to maintain more than 60% of its quantification capability. To further increase the inhibition resistance of NanoGene assay at high concentration of humic acids, we have identified the specific mechanisms that are responsible for the inhibition. We examined five potential mechanisms with which the humic acids can partially inhibit our NanoGene assay. The mechanisms examined were (1) adsorption of humic acids on the particle surface; (2) particle aggregation induced by humic acids; (3) fluorescence quenching of quantum dots by humic acids during hybridization; (4) humic acids mimicking of target DNA; and (5) nonspecific binding between humic acids and target gDNA. The investigation showed that no adsorption of humic acids onto the particles' surface was observed for the humic acids' concentration. Particle aggregation and fluorescence quenching were also negligible. Humic acids also did not mimic the target gDNA except 1000 μg of humic acids per mL and hence should not contribute to the partial inhibition. Four of the above mechanisms were not related to the inhibition effect of humic acids particularly at the environmentally relevant concentrations (<100 μg/mL). However, a substantial amount of nonspecific binding was observed between the humic acids and target gDNA. This possibly results in lesser amount of target gDNA being captured by the probe and signaling DNA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8873-8880
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number20
StatePublished - 15 Oct 2011


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