Dillen et al. (2023) ACS Sensors DOI: 10.1021/acssensors.2c02388
Throughout the past decades, fiber optic surface plasmon resonance (FO-SPR)-based biosensors have proven to be powerful tools for both the characterization of biomolecular interactions and target detection. However, as FO-SPR signals are generally related to the mass that binds to the sensor surface, multistep processes and external reagents are often required to obtain significant signals for low molecular weight targets. This increases the time, cost, and complexity of the respective bioassays and hinders continuous measurements. To overcome these requirements, in this work, cis-duplexed aptamers (DAs) were implemented on FO-SPR sensors, which underwent a conformational change upon target binding. This induced a spatial redistribution of gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) upon specific target binding and resulted in an amplified and concentration-dependent signal. Importantly, the AuNPs were covalently conjugated to the sensor, so the principle does not rely on multistep processes or external reagents. To implement this concept, first, the thickness of the gold fiber coating was adapted to match the resonance conditions of the surface plasmons present on the FO-SPR sensors with those on the AuNPs. As a result, the signal obtained due to the spatial redistribution of the AuNPs was amplified by a factor of 3 compared to the most commonly used thickness. Subsequently, the cis-DAs were successfully implemented on the FO-SPR sensors, and it was demonstrated that the DA-based FO-SPR sensors could specifically and quantitatively detect an ssDNA target with a detection limit of 230 nM. Furthermore, the redistribution of the AuNPs was proven to be reversible, which is an important prerequisite for continuous measurements. Altogether, the established DA-based FO-SPR bioassay holds much promise for the detection of low molecular weight targets in the future and opens up possibilities for FO-SPR-based continuous biosensing.