Copyright © 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
The development of sensitive telomerase biosensors is hindered by the restricted accessibility of telomere strand (TS) primer and the limited enzyme reaction space, which is mainly confined by the vertical distance. In this work, we designed an electrochemical telomerase biosensor based on a spired DNA tetrahedron TS primer (STTS). By adding a rigid dsDNA spire onto the top of the DNA tetrahedron, we successfully regulated the distance between the TS primer and the surface, and thus greatly facilitated the telomerase elongation on surface. The signal-to-noise ratio was 2 times higher than TSP without the spire structure. The limit of detection was calculated to be lower than 10 HeLa cells, which is at least 2 magnitudes lower than other surface extension-based electrochemical telomerase sensors without amplification. The practicability of STTS sensor was also demonstrated by analysing various other cell lines including cancer cells, stem cells of high telomerase activity and somatic cells of low telomerase activity.