Biosensors are biological molecules able to detect and report the presence of a target molecule by the emission of a signal. Nucleic acids are particularly appealing for the design of such molecule since their great structural plasticity makes them able to specifically interact with a wide range of ligands and their structure can rearrange upon recognition to trigger a reporting event. A biosensor is typically made of three main domains: a sensing domain that is connected to a reporting domain via a communication module in charge of transmitting the sensing event through the molecule. The communication module is therefore an instrumental element of the sensor. This module is usually empirically developed through a trial-and-error strategy with the testing of only a few combinations judged relevant by the experimenter. In this work, Université de Strasbourg, researchers introduce a novel method combining the use of droplet-based microfluidics and next generation sequencing. This method allows to functionally characterize up to a million of different sequences in a single set of experiments and, by doing so, to exhaustively test every possible sequence permutations of the communication module. Here, the researchers demonstrate the efficiency of the approach by isolating a set of optimized RNA biosensors able to sense theophylline and to convert this recognition into fluorescence emission.
Optimization of fluorogenic RNA-based biosensors using droplet-based microfluidic ultrahigh-throughput screening
Autour A, Bouhedda F, Cubi R, Ryckelynck M. (2019) Optimization of fluorogenic RNA-based biosensors using droplet-based microfluidic ultrahigh-throughput screening. Methods [Epub ahead of print]. [abstract]