Surpassing the detection limit and accuracy of the electrochemical DNA sensor through the application of CRISPR Cas systems

Wei Xu, Tian Jin, Yifan Dai, Chung Chiun Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Robust developments of personalized medicine for next-generation healthcare highlight the need for sensitive and accurate point-of-care platforms for quantification of disease biomarkers. Broad presentations of clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) as an accurate gene editing tool also indicate that the high-specificity and programmability of CRISPR system can be utilized for the development of biosensing systems. Herein, we present a CRISPR Cas system enhanced electrochemical DNA (E-DNA) sensor with unprecedented sensitivity and accuracy. The principle of the E-DNA sensor is the target induced conformational change of the surface signaling probe (containing an electrochemical tag), leading to the variation of the electron transfer rate of the electrochemical tag. With the introduction of CRISPR cleavage activity into the E-DNA sensor, a more apparent signal change between with and without the presence of the target can be achieved. We compared the performance of Cas9 and Cas12a enhanced E-DNA sensor and optimized the chemical environment of CRISPR, achieving a femto-molar detection limit without enzymatic amplification. Moreover, we correlated the CRISPR cleavage signal with the original E-DNA signal as a strategy to indicate potential mismatches in the target sequence. Comparing with classic DNA electrochemistry based mutation detection strategy, CRISPR enhanced E-DNA sensor can determine the presence of a single mutation at an unknown concentration condition. Overall, we believe that the CRISPR enhanced E-DNA sensing strategy will be of especially high utility for point-of-care systems owing to the programmability, modularity, high-sensitivity and high-accuracy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number112100
JournalBiosensors and Bioelectronics
StatePublished - 1 May 2020


  • Cas12a/Cas9
  • CRISPR biosensor
  • DNA sensor
  • Electrochemical biosensor
  • Point-of-care
  • ssDNA virus


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