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Sensors 2017, 17(7), 1521;

Tuning Selectivity of Fluorescent Carbon Nanotube-Based Neurotransmitter Sensors

Institute of Physical Chemistry, Göttingen University, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
Center for Nanoscale Microscopy and Molecular Physiology of the Brain (CNMPB), 37073 Göttingen, Germany
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 30 April 2017 / Revised: 24 June 2017 / Accepted: 25 June 2017 / Published: 28 June 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chemiresistive Sensors: Status and the Future)
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Detection of neurotransmitters is an analytical challenge and essential to understand neuronal networks in the brain and associated diseases. However, most methods do not provide sufficient spatial, temporal, or chemical resolution. Near-infrared (NIR) fluorescent single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) have been used as building blocks for sensors/probes that detect catecholamine neurotransmitters, including dopamine. This approach provides a high spatial and temporal resolution, but it is not understood if these sensors are able to distinguish dopamine from similar catecholamine neurotransmitters, such as epinephrine or norepinephrine. In this work, the organic phase (DNA sequence) around SWCNTs was varied to create sensors with different selectivity and sensitivity for catecholamine neurotransmitters. Most DNA-functionalized SWCNTs responded to catecholamine neurotransmitters, but both dissociation constants (Kd) and limits of detection were highly dependent on functionalization (sequence). Kd values span a range of 2.3 nM (SWCNT-(GC)15 + norepinephrine) to 9.4 μM (SWCNT-(AT)15 + dopamine) and limits of detection are mostly in the single-digit nM regime. Additionally, sensors of different SWCNT chirality show different fluorescence increases. Moreover, certain sensors (e.g., SWCNT-(GT)10) distinguish between different catecholamines, such as dopamine and norepinephrine at low concentrations (50 nM). These results show that SWCNTs functionalized with certain DNA sequences are able to discriminate between catecholamine neurotransmitters or to detect them in the presence of interfering substances of similar structure. Such sensors will be useful to measure and study neurotransmitter signaling in complex biological settings. View Full-Text
Keywords: carbon nanotube; biosensor; fluorescence; DNA; neurotransmitter; affinity carbon nanotube; biosensor; fluorescence; DNA; neurotransmitter; affinity

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Mann, F.A.; Herrmann, N.; Meyer, D.; Kruss, S. Tuning Selectivity of Fluorescent Carbon Nanotube-Based Neurotransmitter Sensors. Sensors 2017, 17, 1521.

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