A general methodology to design label-free fluorescent functional nucleic acid sensors using a vacant site approach and an abasic site approach is described. In one example, a method for designing label-free fluorescent functional nucleic acid sensors (e.g., those that include a DNAzyme, aptamer or aptazyme) that have a tunable dynamic range through the introduction of an abasic site (e.g., dSpacer) or a vacant site into the functional nucleic acids. Also provided is a general method for designing label-free fluorescent aptamer sensors based on the regulation of malachite green (MG) fluorescence. A general method for designing label-free fluorescent catalytic and molecular beacons (CAMBs) is also provided. The methods demonstrated here can be used to design many other label-free fluorescent sensors to detect a wide range of analytes. Sensors and methods of using the disclosed sensors are also provided.
ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF GOVERNMENT SUPPORT
This invention was made with government support under DE-FG02-08ER64568 awarded by the Department of Energy, under ES16865 awarded by The National Institutes of Health, and CTS-0120978 and DMI-0328162 awarded by the National Science Foundation. The government has certain rights in the invention.