Intrinsic “Turn-On” Aptasensor Detection of Ochratoxin A Using Energy-Transfer Fluorescence

June 29, 2020


Intrinsic “Turn-On” Aptasensor Detection of Ochratoxin A Using Energy-Transfer Fluorescence




Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry


Ochratoxin A (OTA) is an intrinsically fluorescent phenolic mycotoxin that contaminates a wide range of food products and is a serious health threat to animals and humans. An OTA binding aptamer (OTABA) that folds into an antiparallel G-quadruplex (GQ) in the absence and presence of target OTA has been incorporated into a vast variety of aptasensor platforms for OTA detection. The development of a simple, aptamer-based approach would allow for detection of the toxin without the use of complex analytical instrumentation, which has been the gold standard for OTA detection thus far. However, to date, none of the aptasensor platforms have utilized the natural fluorescence of the phenolic toxin for detection. Herein, we report that OTA binding to OTABA involves π-stacking interactions that lead to GQ-to-toxin energy transfer (ET), which affords a “turn-on” fluorescence self-signaling platform in which the emission of the aptamer–target complex is enhanced in comparison to the free toxin alone. Selective excitation of the GQ–OTA complex at 256 nm leads to a 4-fold enhancement in OTA fluorescence. The GQ–OTA ET detection platform boasts a limit of detection ∼2 ng/mL, which is comparable to a previously demonstrated fluorescence resonance energy transfer immunoassay platform for OTA detection, and displays excellent OTA selectivity and recovery from red wine samples.




Circular dichroism, G-quadruplex structure, Ligand binding, DNA structure, Biochemistry, Food science