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Improving Immunoassay Performance with Cleavable Blocking of Microarrays

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journal contribution
posted on 11.12.2020, 14:42 by Yuri M. Shlyapnikov, Ekaterina A. Malakhova, Elena A. Shlyapnikova
Among the key issues that are commonly associated with the development of microarray-based assays are nonspecific binding and diffusion constraints. Here we present a novel strategy addressing both of these challenges simultaneously. The essence of the method consists in blocking the microarray surface with a blocking agent containing a perfluoroalkyl chain and a disulfide linker. The resulting surface is hydrophobic, and no immiscible liquid layer remains on it upon cyclically draining and replenishing the sample solution, ensuring an efficient mass transfer of an analyte onto a microarray. Prior to the signal detection procedure, disulfide bonds are chemically cleaved, and the perfluoroalkyl chains are removed from the microarray surface along with nonspecifically adsorbed proteins, resulting in extremely low background. Using conventional fluorescent detection, we show a 30-fold increase in signal/background ratio compared to a common epoxy-modified glass substrate. The combination of this technique with magnetic beads detection results in a simple and ultrasensitive cholera toxin (CT) immunoassay. The limit of detection (LOD) is 1 fM, which is achieved with an analyte binding time of 1 h. Efficient mass transfer provides highly sensitive detection of whole virus particles despite their low diffusion coefficient. The achieved LOD for vaccinia virus is 104 particles in 1 mL of sample. Finally, we have performed for the first time the simultaneous detection of whole virus and CT protein biomarker in a single assay. The developed technique can be used for multiplex detection of trace amounts of pathogens of various natures.