Direct Approach toward Label-Free DNA Detection by Surface-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy: Discrimination of a Single-Base Mutation in 50 Base-Paired Double Helixes

Surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) has exhibited great potential in label-free DNA detection. Owing to the limitation in chain length, it is however still challenging for SERS as a routine method to explore the intrinsic structural information on unmodified DNA. Here, we develop a universal SERS-based approach toward quantification of A/G in single-stranded DNAs (12 up to 28 bases) by introducing a novel interfacial agent, dichloromethane. DNA hybridization is successfully probed as evidenced by the typical SERS bands attributed to hydrogen bonds in a hairpin structure. More importantly, enlarged space of “hot spots” in SERS enables discrimination of single-base mutation in double-stranded DNA with 100 bases, which as a proof-of-concept study will pave a new avenue for highly sensitive DNA detection in clinical applications.