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Specific G-quadruplex-probing is crucial for both biological sciences and biosensing applications. Most reported probes are focused on fluorescent or colorimetric recognition of G-quadruplexes. Herein, for the first time, we reported a new specific G-quadruplex-probing technique—resonance light scattering (RLS)-based ratiometric recognition. To achieve the RLS probing of G-quadruplexes in the important physiological pH range of 7.4-6.0, four water soluble cationic porphyrin derivatives, including an unreported octa-cationic porphyrin, with large side arm substituents were synthesized and developed as RLS probes. These RLS probes were demonstrated to work well for ratiometric recognition of G-quadruplexes with high specificity against single- and double-stranded DNAs, including long double-stranded ones. The working mechanism was speculated to be based on the RLS signal changes caused by porphyrin protonation that was promoted by the end-stacking of porphyrins on Gquadruplexes. This work adds an important member in G-quadruplex probe family, thus providing a useful tool for studies on G-quadruplex-related events concerning G-quadruplex formation, destruction and changes in size, shape and aggregation. As a proofof-concept example of applications, the RLS probes were demonstrated to work well for label-free and sequence-specific sensing of microRNA. This work also provides a simple and useful way for the preparation of cationic porphyrins with high charges.

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Zhang, L.-M., Cui, Y.-X., Zhu, L.-N., Chu, J.-Q., & Kong, D.-M. (2019). Cationic porphyrins with large side arm substituents as resonance light scattering ratiometric probes for specific recognition of nucleic acid G-quadruplexes. Nucleic Acids Research, 47(6), 2727–2738.


C The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.



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