Sensing of gene expression in live cells using electrical impedance spectroscopy and DNA-functionalized gold nanoparticles

Kian Kadan-Jamal, Aakash Jog, Marios Sophocleous, Tali Dotan, Polina Frumin, Tamar Kuperberg Goshen, Silvia Schuster, Adi Avni, Yosi Shacham-Diamand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A novel electrical impedance spectroscopy-based method for non-destructive sensing of gene expression in living cells is presented. The approach used takes advantage of the robustness and responsiveness of electrical impedance spectroscopy and the highly specific and selective nature of DNA hybridization. The technique uses electrical impedance spectroscopy and gold nanoparticles functionalized with single-stranded DNA complementary to an mRNA of interest to provide reliable, real-time, and quantifiable data on gene expression in live cells. The system was validated by demonstrating specific detection of the uidA mRNA, which codes for the β-glucuronidase (GUS) enzyme, in Solanum lycopersicum MsK8 cells. Gold nanoparticles were functionalized with single-stranded DNA oligonucleotides consisting of either a sequence complementary to uidA mRNA or an arbitrary sequence. The DNA-functionalized gold nanoparticles were mixed with cell suspensions, allowing the gold nanoparticles to penetrate into the cells. The impedance spectra of suspensions of cells with gold nanoparticles inserted within them were then studied. In suspensions of uidA-expressing cells and gold nanoparticles functionalized with the complementary single-stranded DNA oligonucleotide, the impedance magnitude in the frequency range of interest was significantly higher (146 %) in comparison to all other controls. Due to its highly selective nature, the methodology has the potential to be used as a precision agricultural sensing system for accurate and real-time detection of markers of stress, viral infection, disease, and normal physiological activities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number116041
JournalBiosensors and Bioelectronics
StatePublished - 15 May 2024


  • Electrical impedance spectroscopy (EIS)
  • Functionalized nanoparticles
  • Gene expression
  • In-vivo sensing
  • Plant cells

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Biophysics
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Electrochemistry


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