Hybridization chain reaction: a versatile molecular tool for biosensing, bioimaging, and biomedicine.

Sai Bi, Shuzhen Yue, Shusheng Zhang,

Chemical Society reviews, June 2, 2017

Developing powerful, simple and low-cost DNA amplification techniques is of great significance to bioanalysis and biomedical research. Thus far, many signal amplification strategies have been developed, such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR), rolling circle amplification (RCA), and DNA strand displacement amplification (SDA). In particular, hybridization chain reaction (HCR), a type of toehold-mediated strand displacement (TMSD) reaction, has attracted great interest because of its enzyme-free nature, isothermal conditions, simple protocols, and excellent amplification efficiency. In a typical HCR, an analyte initiates the cross-opening of two DNA hairpins, yielding nicked double helices that are analogous to alternating copolymers. As an efficient amplification platform, HCR has been utilized for the sensitive detection of a wide variety of analytes, including nucleic acids, proteins, small molecules, and cells. In recent years, more complicated sets of monomers have been designed to develop nonlinear HCR, such as branched HCR and even dendritic systems, achieving quadratic and exponential growth mechanisms. In addition, HCR has attracted enormous attention in the fields of bioimaging and biomedicine, including applications in fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) imaging, live cell imaging, and targeted drug delivery. In this review, we introduce the fundamentals of HCR and examine the visualization and analysis techniques for HCR products in detail. The most recent HCR developments in biosensing, bioimaging, and biomedicine are subsequently discussed with selected examples. Finally, the review provides insight into the challenges and future perspectives of HCR.

Pubmed Link: 28573275

DOI: 10.1039/c7cs00055c