Detection of antibodies in blood plasma using bioluminescent sensor proteins and a smartphone

R. Arts, I. den Hartog, S.E. Zijlema, V. Thijssen, S.H.E. van der Beelen, M. Merkx

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

102 Citations (Scopus)
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Antibody detection is of fundamental importance in many diagnostic and bioanalytical assays, yet current detection techniques tend to be laborious and/or expensive. We present a new sensor platform (LUMABS) based on bioluminescence resonance energy transfer (BRET) that allows detection of antibodies directly in solution using a smartphone as the sole piece of equipment. LUMABS are single-protein sensors that consist of the blue-light emitting luciferase NanoLuc connected via a semiflexible linker to the green fluorescent acceptor protein mNeonGreen, which are kept close together using helper domains. Binding of an antibody to epitope sequences flanking the linker disrupts the interaction between the helper domains, resulting in a large decrease in BRET efficiency. The resulting change in color of the emitted light from green-blue to blue can be detected directly in blood plasma, even at picomolar concentrations of antibody. Moreover, the modular architecture of LUMABS allows changing of target specificity by simple exchange of epitope sequences, as demonstrated here for antibodies against HIV1-p17, hemagglutinin (HA), and dengue virus type I. The combination of sensitive ratiometric bioluminescent detection and the intrinsic modularity of the LUMABS design provides an attractive generic platform for point-of-care antibody detection that avoids the complex liquid handling steps associated with conventional immunoassays.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4525-4532
Number of pages8
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 3 May 2016


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