Application of DNA Aptamers and Quantum Dots to Lateral Flow Test Strips for Detection of Foodborne Pathogens with Improved Sensitivity versus Colloidal Gold
John G. Bruno
Operational Technologies Corporation, 4100 N.W. Loop 410, Suite 230, San Antonio, TX 78229, USA.
Preliminary studies aimed at improving the sensitivity of foodborne pathogen detection via lateral flow (LF) test strips by use of high affinity DNA aptamers for capture and reporter functions when coupled to red-emitting quantum dots (Qdot 655) are reported. A variety of DNA aptamers developed against Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes, and Salmonella enterica were paired in capture and reporter combinations to determine which yielded the strongest detection of their cognate bacteria using a colloidal gold screening system. Several promising sandwich combinations were identified for each of the three bacterial LF strip systems. The best E. coli aptamer-LF system was further studied and yielded a visible limit of detection (LOD) of ~3,000 E. coli 8739 and ~6,000 E. coli O157:H7 in buffer. These LODs were reduced to ~300–600 bacterial cells per test respectively by switching to a Qdot 655 aptamer-LF system. Novel aspects of these assays such as the use of high levels of detergents to avoid quantum dot agglutination and enhance migration in analytical membranes, identification of optimal analytical membrane types, UV-immobilization of capture aptamers, and novel dual biotin/digoxigenin-end labeled aptamer streptavidin-colloidal gold or -Qdot 655 conjugates plus anti-digoxigenin antibody control lines are also discussed. In general, this work provides proof-of-principle for highly sensitive aptamer-Qdot LF strip assays for rapid foodborne pathogen detection.