A Polyaniline-Based Sensor of Nucleic Acids

Partha P. Sengupta, University of Southern Mississippi
Jared N. Gloria, University of Southern Mississippi
Marcus K. Parker, University of Southern Mississippi
Alex S. Flynt, University of Southern Mississippi


Detection of nucleic acids is at the center of diagnostic technologies used in research and the clinic. Standard approaches used in these technologies rely on enzymatic modification that can introduce bias and artifacts. A critical element of next generation detection platforms will be direct molecular sensing, thereby avoiding a need for amplification or labels. Advanced nanomaterials may provide the suitable chemical modalities to realize label-free sensors. Conjugated polymers are ideal for biological sensing, possessing properties compatible with biomolecules and exhibit high sensitivity to localized environmental changes. In this article, a method is presented for detecting nucleic acids using the electroconductive polymer polyaniline. Simple DNA “probe” oligonucleotides complementary to target nucleic acids are attached electrostatically to the polymer, creating a sensor system that can differentiate single nucleotide differences in target molecules. Outside the specific and unbiased nature of this technology, it is highly cost effective.