Theranostics 2018; 8(4):1075-1083. doi:10.7150/thno.22794 This issue

Research Paper

Nondestructive Analysis of Tumor-Associated Membrane Protein Integrating Imaging and Amplified Detection in situ Based on Dual-Labeled DNAzyme

Xiaoxia Chen1,#, Jing Zhao1,#, Tianshu Chen1, Tao Gao1, Xiaoli Zhu1,✉, Genxi Li1,2,✉

1. Center for Molecular Recognition and Biosensing, School of Life Sciences, Shanghai University, Shanghai 200444, P. R. China
2. State Key Laboratory of Pharmaceutical Biotechnology and Collaborative Innovation Center of Chemistry for Life Sciences, Department of Biochemistry, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210093, P. R. China
#These authors contribute equally to this work.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY-NC) license ( See for full terms and conditions.
Chen X, Zhao J, Chen T, Gao T, Zhu X, Li G. Nondestructive Analysis of Tumor-Associated Membrane Protein Integrating Imaging and Amplified Detection in situ Based on Dual-Labeled DNAzyme. Theranostics 2018; 8(4):1075-1083. doi:10.7150/thno.22794. Available from

File import instruction


Graphic abstract

Comprehensive analysis of the expression level and location of tumor-associated membrane proteins (TMPs) is of vital importance for the profiling of tumor cells. Currently, two kinds of independent techniques, i.e. ex situ detection and in situ imaging, are usually required for the quantification and localization of TMPs respectively, resulting in some inevitable problems.

Methods: Herein, based on a well-designed and fluorophore-labeled DNAzyme, we develop an integrated and facile method, in which imaging and quantification of TMPs in situ are achieved simultaneously in a single system. The labeled DNAzyme not only produces localized fluorescence for the visualization of TMPs but also catalyzes the cleavage of a substrate to produce quantitative fluorescent signals that can be collected from solution for the sensitive detection of TMPs.

Results: Results from the DNAzyme-based in situ imaging and quantification of TMPs match well with traditional immunofluorescence and western blotting. In addition to the advantage of two-in-one, the DNAzyme-based method is highly sensitivity, allowing the detection of TMPs in only 100 cells. Moreover, the method is nondestructive. Cells after analysis could retain their physiological activity and could be cultured for other applications.

Conclusion: The integrated system provides solid results for both imaging and quantification of TMPs, making it a competitive method over some traditional techniques for the analysis of TMPs, which offers potential application as a toolbox in the future.

Keywords: tumor-associated membrane proteins, DNAzyme, in situ imaging, quantitative detection, nondestructive analysis