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Amplification-free detection of viral RNA by super resolution imaging-based CRISPR/Cas13a System

By Peiwu Qin, Dongmei Yu, Qian He, Qun Chen, Fang Li, Xi Yuan, Changyue Liu, Lin Deng, Yong bin Zhang, Ke Du, Yuhan Dong, Vijay Pandey, Lidan Xu, Xiaoyun Zhong, Jiazhang Wei

Posted 18 Jul 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.07.17.452803

RNA detection is crucial for biological research and clinical diagnosis. The current methods include both direct and amplification-based RNA detection. These methods require complicated procedures, suffering from low sensitivity, slow turnaround, and amplification bias. The CRISPR/Cas13a system is a direct RNA detection method via target RNA induced collateral cleavage activity. However, to detect low concentration RNA with CRISPR/Cas13a, target amplification is always required. Herein, we optimize the components of the CRISPR/Cas13a assay to enhance the sensitivity of viral RNA detection which improve the detection limit from 1 pM up to 100 fM. In addition, the integration of CRISPR/Cas13a biosensing and single molecule super resolution imaging is a novel strategy for direct and amplification-free RNA detection. After surface modification, fluorescent RNA reporters are immobilized on the glass coverslip surface and fluorescent signals are captured by total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy (TIRFM), shifting the measurement from spectroscopy to imaging. We quantify the fluorescence signal intensity before and after collateral cleavage of the CRISPR system when viral RNA is present and achieve a detection limit of 10 fM. Therefore, we provide a novel TIRFM-based system to visualize the CRISPR trans-cleavage for direct and robust RNA detection.

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