Indexed on: 22 Mar '06Published on: 22 Mar '06Published in: Analytical Biochemistry: Methods in the Biological Sciences
Single molecule detection of target molecules specifically bound by paired fluorescently labeled probes has shown great potential for sensitive quantitation of biomolecules. To date, no reports have rigorously evaluated the analytical capabilities of a single molecule detection platform employing this dual-probe approach or the performance of its data analysis methodology. In this paper, we describe a rapid, automated, and sensitive multicolor single molecule detection apparatus and a novel extension of coincident event counting based on detection of fluorescent probes. The approach estimates the number of dual-labeled molecules of interest from the total number of coincident fluorescent events observed by correcting for unbound probes that randomly pass through the interrogation zone simultaneously. Event counting was evaluated on three combinations of distinct fluorescence channels and was demonstrated to outperform conventional spatial cross-correlation in generating a wider linear dynamic response to target molecules. Furthermore, this approach succeeded in detecting subpicomolar concentrations of a model RNA target to which fluorescently labeled oligonucleotide probes were hybridized in a complex background of RNA. These results illustrate that the fluorescent event counting approach described represents a general tool for rapid sensitive quantitative analysis of any sample analyte, including nucleic acids and proteins, for which pairs of specific probes can be developed.