Nanotheranostics 2018; 2(1):96-105. doi:10.7150/ntno.22960

Research Paper

Two-Color-Based Nanoflares for Multiplexed MicroRNAs Imaging in Live Cells

Jing Li1, Jin Huang1✉, Xiaohai Yang1, Yanjing Yang1, Ke Quan1, Nuli Xie1, Yanan Wu1, Changbei Ma2, Kemin Wang1✉

1. State Key Laboratory of Chemo/Biosensing and Chemometrics, College of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Key Laboratory for Bio-Nanotechnology and Molecular Engineering of Hunan Province, Hunan University, Changsha, China.
2. State Key Laboratory of Medical Genetics & School of Life Science, Central South University, Changsha, China.

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Li J, Huang J, Yang X, Yang Y, Quan K, Xie N, Wu Y, Ma C, Wang K. Two-Color-Based Nanoflares for Multiplexed MicroRNAs Imaging in Live Cells. Nanotheranostics 2018; 2(1):96-105. doi:10.7150/ntno.22960. Available from

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MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have become an ideal biomarker candidate for early diagnosis of diseases. But various diseases involve changes in the expression of different miRNAs. Therefore, multiplexed assay of miRNAs in live cells can provide critical information for our better understanding of their roles in cells and further validating of their function in clinical diagnoses. Simultaneous detection of multiple biomarkers could effectively improve the accuracy of early cancer diagnosis. Here, we develop the two-color-based nanoflares for simultaneously detecting two distinct miRNA targets inside live cells. The nanoflares consist of gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) functionalized with a dense shell of recognition sequences hybridized to two short fluorophore-labeled DNA molecules, termed “flares”. In this conformation, the close proximity of the fluorophore to the AuNPs surface leads to quenching of the fluorescence. However, when target miRNAs bind to the recognition sequence, the concomitant displacement of the flare can be detected as a corresponding increase in fluorescence. The results demonstrate that the two-color-based nanoflares can simultaneously detect miR-21 and miR-141 expression levels in various live cancer cells successfully. Compared to the traditional single-color-based nanoflares, the two-color-based nanoflares could offer more reliable and practical information for cancer detection, improving the accuracy of early disease diagnosis.

Keywords: two-color-based nanoflares, multiplexed microRNAs imaging, living cells