Detection of CRISPR-dCas9 on DNA with Solid-State Nanopores

Wayne Yang, Laura Restrepo-Pérez, Michel Bengtson, Stephanie J. Heerema, Anthony Birnie, Jaco Van Der Torre, Cees Dekker*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

68 Citations (Scopus)
67 Downloads (Pure)


Solid-state nanopores have emerged as promising platforms for biosensing including diagnostics for disease detection. Here we show nanopore experiments that detect CRISPR-dCas9, a sequence-specific RNA-guided protein system that specifically binds to a target DNA sequence. While CRISPR-Cas9 is acclaimed for its gene editing potential, the CRISPR-dCas9 variant employed here does not cut DNA but instead remains tightly bound at a user-defined binding site, thus providing an excellent target for biosensing. In our nanopore experiments, we observe the CRISPR-dCas9 proteins as local spikes that appear on top of the ionic current blockade signal of DNA molecules that translocate through the nanopore. The proteins exhibit a pronounced blockade signal that allows for facile identification of the targeted sequence. Even at the high salt conditions (1 M LiCl) required for nanopore experiments, dCas9 proteins are found to remain stably bound. The binding position of the target sequence can be read from the spike position along the DNA signal. We anticipate applications of this nanopore-based CRISPR-dCas9 biosensing approach in DNA-typing based diagnostics such as quick disease-strain identification, antibiotic-resistance detection, and genome typing.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages6
JournalNano Letters
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • biosensing
  • CRISPR-Cas9
  • diagnostics
  • Nanopores


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