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Journal of Nucleic Acids
Volume 2018, Article ID 5307106, 20 pages
Review Article

Electrochemical and AFM Characterization of G-Quadruplex Electrochemical Biosensors and Applications

1Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Sciences and Technology, University of Coimbra, 3004-535 Coimbra, Portugal
2CIBER-BBN, Institute for Advanced Chemistry of Catalonia (IQAC), Spanish Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), Jordi Girona 18-26, 08034 Barcelona, Spain

Correspondence should be addressed to Ana Maria Oliveira-Brett;

Received 17 August 2017; Revised 25 October 2017; Accepted 5 November 2017; Published 31 January 2018

Academic Editor: Tom Marsh

Copyright © 2018 Ana-Maria Chiorcea-Paquim et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Guanine-rich DNA sequences are able to form G-quadruplexes, being involved in important biological processes and representing smart self-assembling nanomaterials that are increasingly used in DNA nanotechnology and biosensor technology. G-quadruplex electrochemical biosensors have received particular attention, since the electrochemical response is particularly sensitive to the DNA structural changes from single-stranded, double-stranded, or hairpin into a G-quadruplex configuration. Furthermore, the development of an increased number of G-quadruplex aptamers that combine the G-quadruplex stiffness and self-assembling versatility with the aptamer high specificity of binding to a variety of molecular targets allowed the construction of biosensors with increased selectivity and sensitivity. This review discusses the recent advances on the electrochemical characterization, design, and applications of G-quadruplex electrochemical biosensors in the evaluation of metal ions, G-quadruplex ligands, and other small organic molecules, proteins, and cells. The electrochemical and atomic force microscopy characterization of G-quadruplexes is presented. The incubation time and cations concentration dependence in controlling the G-quadruplex folding, stability, and nanostructures formation at carbon electrodes are discussed. Different G-quadruplex electrochemical biosensors design strategies, based on the DNA folding into a G-quadruplex, the use of G-quadruplex aptamers, or the use of hemin/G-quadruplex DNAzymes, are revisited.