DNA Clutch Probes for Circulating Tumor DNA Analysis

Jagotamoy Das, Ivaylo Ivanov, Edward H. Sargent, Shana O. Kelley*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

158 Scopus citations


Progress toward the development of minimally invasive liquid biopsies of disease is being bolstered by breakthroughs in the analysis of circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA): DNA released from cancer cells into the bloodstream. However, robust, sensitive, and specific methods of detecting this emerging analyte are lacking. ctDNA analysis has unique challenges, since it is imperative to distinguish circulating DNA from normal cells vs mutation-bearing sequences originating from tumors. Here we report the electrochemical detection of mutated ctDNA in samples collected from cancer patients. By developing a strategy relying on the use of DNA clutch probes (DCPs) that render specific sequences of ctDNA accessible, we were able to readout the presence of mutated ctDNA. DCPs prevent reassociation of denatured DNA strands: they make one of the two strands of a dsDNA accessible for hybridization to a probe, and they also deactivate other closely related sequences in solution. DCPs ensure thereby that only mutated sequences associate with chip-based sensors detecting hybridization events. The assay exhibits excellent sensitivity and specificity in the detection of mutated ctDNA: it detects 1 fg/μL of a target mutation in the presence of 100 pg/μL of wild-type DNA, corresponding to detecting mutations at a level of 0.01% relative to wild type. This approach allows accurate analysis of samples collected from lung cancer and melanoma patients. This work represents the first detection of ctDNA without enzymatic amplification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11009-11016
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number34
StatePublished - Aug 31 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Catalysis
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'DNA Clutch Probes for Circulating Tumor DNA Analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this