Self-assembled monolayer-assisted silicon nanowire biosensor for detection of protein-DNA interactions in nuclear extracts from breast cancer cell.

Document Type


Publication Date



Biosensing Techniques, Breast Neoplasms, Cell Line, Tumor, Cell Nucleolus, DNA, Female, Humans, Microscopy, Atomic Force, Nanowires, Photoelectron Spectroscopy, Protein Binding, Proteins, Sensitivity and Specificity, Silicon

JAX Source

Biosens Bioelectron 2011 Mar 15; 26(7):3233-9.




The large number of estrogen receptor (ER) binding sites of various sequence patterns requires a sensitive detection to differentiate between subtle differences in ER-DNA binding affinities. A self-assembled monolayer (SAM)-assisted silicon nanowire (SiNW) biosensor for specific and highly sensitive detection of protein-DNA interactions, remarkably in nuclear extracts prepared from breast cancer cells, is presented. As a typical model, estrogen receptor element (ERE, dsDNA) and estrogen receptor alpha (ERα, protein) binding was adopted in the work. The SiNW surface was coated with a vinyl-terminated SAM, and the termination of the surface was changed to carboxylic acid via oxidation. DNA modified with amine group was subsequently immobilized on the SiNW surface. Protein-DNA binding was finally investigated by the functionalized SiNW biosensor. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and atomic force microscopy (AFM) were employed to characterize the stepwise functionalization of the SAM and DNA on bare silicon surface, and to visualize protein-DNA binding on the SiNW surface, respectively. We observed that ERα had high sequence specificity to the SiNW biosensor which was functionalized with three different EREs including wild-type, mutant and scrambled DNA sequences. We also demonstrate that the specific DNA-functionalized SiNW biosensor was capable of detecting ERα as low as 10 fM. Impressively, the developed SiNW biosensor was able to detect ERα-DNA interactions in nuclear extracts from breast cancer cells. The SAM-assisted SiNW biosensor, as a label-free and highly sensitive tool, shows a potential in studying protein-DNA interactions.