Graduate Studies


Date of this Version



A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Chemistry, Under the Supervision of Rebecca Y. Lai. Lincoln, Nebraska: April, 2010
Copyright 2010 Jennifer Y. Gerasimov


The detection of pertinent biomarkers has the potential provide an early indication of disease progression before considerable damage has been incurred. A decrease in an individual’s sensitivity to insulin, which may be quantified as the ratio of insulin to glucose in the blood after a glucose pulse, has recently been reported as an early predictor of insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Routine measurement of insulin levels is therefore desirable in the care of diabetes-prone individuals. A rapid, simple, and reagentless method for insulin detection would allow for wide-spread screenings that provide earlier signs of diabetes onset.

The aim of this thesis is to develop a folding-base electrochemical sensor for the detection of insulin. The sensor described herein consists of a DNA probe immobilized on a gold disc electrode via an alkanethiol linker and embedded in an alkanethiol self-assembled monolayer. The probe is labeled with a redox reporter, which readily transfers electrons to the gold electrode in the absence of insulin. In the presence of insulin, electron transfer is inhibited, presumably due to a binding-induced conformational or dynamic change in the DNA probe that significantly alters the electron-tunneling pathway.

A 28-base segment of the insulin-linked polymorphic region that has been reported to bind insulin with high affinity serves as the capture element of the DNA probe. Three probe constructs that vary in their secondary structure and position of the redox label are evaluated for their utility as insulin-sensing elements on the electrochemical platform. The effects of probe modification on secondary structure are also evaluated using circular dichroism spectroscopy.