Date of this Version
Methodologies to detect DNA sequences with high sensitivity and specificity have tremendous potential as molecular diagnostic agents. Most current methods exploit the ability of single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) to base pair with high specificity to a complementary molecule. However, recent advances in robust techniques for recognition of DNA in the major and minor groove have made possible the direct detection of double-stranded DNA (dsDNA), without the need for denaturation, renaturation, or hybridization. This review will describe the progress in adapting polyamides, triplex DNA, and engineered zinc finger DNA-binding proteins as dsDNA diagnostic systems. In particular, the sequence-enabled reassembly (SEER) method, involving the use of custom zinc finger proteins, offers the potential for direct detection of dsDNA in cells, with implications for cell-based diagnostics and therapeutics.