A new synthetic strategy for DNA–enzyme conjugates with a novel architecture was explored using a natural cross-linking catalyst, microbial transglutaminase (MTG). A glutamine-donor substrate peptide of MTG was introduced at the 5-position on the pyrimidine of deoxyuridine triphosphate to prepare a DNA strand with multiple glutamine-donor sites by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). A substrate peptide that contained an MTG-reactive lysine residue was fused to the N terminus of a thermostable alkaline phoshatase from Pyrococcus furiosus (PfuAP) by genetic engineering. By combining enzymatically the substrate moieties of MTG introduced to the DNA template and the recombinant enzyme, a DNA–(enzyme)n conjugate with 1:n stoichiometry was successfully obtained. The enzyme/DNA ratio of the conjugate increased as the benzyloxycarbonyl-L-glutaminylglycine (Z-QG) moiety increased in the DNA template. The potential utility of the new conjugate decorated with signaling enzymes was validated in a dot blot hybridization assay. The DNA–(enzyme)n probe could clearly detect 104 copies of the target nucleic acid with the complementary sequence under harsh hybridization conditions, thereby enabling a simple detection procedure without cumbersome bound/free processes associated with a conventional hapten–antibody reaction-based DNA-detection system.
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