Detection of real-time dynamics of drug-target interactions by ultralong nanowalls

Detecting drug-target interactions in real-time is a powerful approach for drug discovery and analytics. We show here for the first time the ultra fast electrical real-time detection and quantification of antibiotics using a novel biohybrid nanosensor. The biomolecular sensing is performed on ultralong (mm range) high aspect ratio nanowall (50 nm width) surfaces functionalized with operator DNA tetO which is specifically bound by the sensor protein TetR. This sensor protein is released from the operator DNA in a dose dependent manner by exposing the device functionalized with this bound DNA-protein complex to tetracycline antibiotics. As a result, the electrical conductance is accordingly modulated by these surface net charge changes. The switching mechanism of sensor proteins attached at the functionalized surfaces and releasing them again by antibiotics is demonstrated. With the here presented device the detection limit is below the limits of prevailing detection methods. Moreover, the study is extended to detect antibiotic residues in spiked organic milk from cows far below the maximum residual level of the European Union. In spiked milk samples a detection limit for tetracycline concentrations in the 100 fM level was achieved. The nanowall devices are fabricated by atomic layer deposition-based spacer lithography on full wafer scale which is a simple approach capable for mass production. © 2013 The Royal Society of Chemistry.