New Concepts of Fluorescent Probes for Specific Detection of DNA Sequences: Bis-Modified Oligonucleotides in Excimer and Exciplex Detection

Original article


Gbaj A 1,3, Bichenkova EV 1, Walsh L 1, Savage HE 1, Sardarian AR 1,2, Etchells LL 1, Gulati A 1, Hawisa S 3, Douglas KT 1

1-Wolfson Centre for Rational Structure-Based Design of Molecular Diagnostics, School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Manchester, UK. 2-Present address; Department of Chemistry, Shiraz University, Shiraz, Iran and 3-National Centre for Medical Research, Zawia-Libya.

Libyan J Med 2009; 4(4):D152-159


The detection of single base mismatches in DNA is important for diagnostics, treatment of genetic diseases, and identification of single nucleotide polymorphisms. Highly sensitive, specific assays are needed to investigate genetic samples from patients. The use of a simple fluorescent nucleoside analogue in detection of DNA sequence and point mutations by hybridisation in solution is described in this study. The 5’-bispyrene and 3’-naphthalene oligonucleotide probes form an exciplex on hybridisation to target in water and the 5’-bispyrene oligonucleotide alone is an adequate probe to determine concentration of target present. It was also indicated that this system has a potential to identify mismatches and insertions.
The aim of this work was to investigate experimental structures and conditions that permit strong exciplex emission for nucleic acid detectors, and show how such exciplexes can register the presence of mismatches as required in SNP analysis. This study revealed that the hybridisation of 5′-bispyrenyl fluorophore to a DNA target results in formation of a fluorescent probe with high signal intensity change and specificity for detecting a complementary target in a homogeneous system. Detection of SNP mutations using this split-probe system is a highly specific, simple, and accessible method to meet the rigorous requirements of pharmacogenomic studies. Thus, it is possible for the system to act as SNP detectors and it shows promise for future applications in genetic testing.

Keywords: 5’-bispyrene, Trifluoroethanol (TFE), Exciplex, DNA detection, Fluorescence, Stokes shift.