DNA engineered copper oxide-based nanocomposites with multiple enzyme-like activities for specific detection of mercury species in environmental and biological samples

Chia Wen Lien, Po Hsiung Yu, Huan Tsung Chang, Pang Hung Hsu, Tsunghsueh Wu, Yang Wei Lin, Chih Ching Huang, Jui Yang Lai

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In this paper, we report the synthesis and application of enzyme-like DNA-copper oxide/platinum nanoparticles for the separate quantification of inorganic and organomercury species in various real samples. We synthesized a series of poly(thymine) (T60)–copper oxide/metal nanocomposites (T60–CuxO/M NCs; M = Au, Ag or Pt) that exhibited enzyme-like activities [oxidase (OX), peroxidase (POX), and catalase (CAT)]. The enzyme-like activities are tunable due to the incorporation of various metals into the NCs. Among a series of synthesized CuxO/M NCs, T60–copper oxide-platinum nanocomposites (T60–CuxO/Pt NCs) exhibited the highest OX-like activity via the O2-mediated oxidation of substrates, such as Amplex Red (AR), 2,2′-azino-bis(3-ethylbenzthiazoline-6-sulfonic acid) (ABTS), o-phenylenediamine (OPD), and 3,3′,5,5′-tetramethylbenzidine (TMB), to form fluorescent or colored products. Interestingly, inorganic mercury ions (Hg2+) and organomercury species, such as methylmercury (MeHg+), ethylmercury (EtHg+), and phenylmercury (PhHg+), significantly inhibited the OX-like activity of T60–CuxO/Pt NCs. For the selective detection of mercury species, we used ABTS in the T60–CuxO/Pt NCs system, and the ABTS/T60–CuxO/Pt NCs-based assay allowed for the detection of mercury ions at nanomolar concentrations based on the decrease in the catalytic activity caused by the mercury ions. To separately quantify the inorganic and organomercury species in a sample, we employed selenium nanoparticles (Se NPs) as a masking agent, as they preferentially bind with inorganic mercury species. The ABTS/T60–CuxO/Pt NCs-based assay with the masking agent of Se NPs further provided specificity for the detection of organomercury species in environmental water samples (tap water, river water, and seawater) and fish muscle samples (dogfish muscle DORM-II).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106-115
Number of pages10
JournalAnalytica Chimica Acta
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Nov 25


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Spectroscopy

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