Fluorescent hybridization probes for nucleic acid detection

Jia Guo, Jingyue Ju, Nicholas J. Turro

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


Due to their high sensitivity and selectivity, minimum interference with living biological systems, and ease of design and synthesis, fluorescent hybridization probes have been widely used to detect nucleic acids both in vivo and in vitro. Molecular beacons (MBs) and binary probes (BPs) are two very important hybridization probes that are designed based on well-established photophysical principles. These probes have shown particular applicability in a variety of studies, such as mRNA tracking, single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) detection, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) monitoring, and microorganism identification. Molecular beacons are hairpin oligonucleotide probes that present distinctive fluorescent signatures in the presence and absence of their target. Binary probes consist of two fluorescently labeled oligonucleotide strands that can hybridize to adjacent regions of their target and generate distinctive fluorescence signals. These probes have been extensively studied and modified for different applications by modulating their structures or using various combinations of fluorophores, excimer-forming molecules, and metal complexes. This review describes the applicability and advantages of various hybridization probes that utilize novel and creative design to enhance their target detection sensitivity and specificity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3115-3125
Number of pages11
JournalAnalytical and bioanalytical chemistry
Issue number10
StatePublished - Apr 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Binary probes
  • FRET
  • Fluorescence
  • Molecular beacon
  • Oligonucleotide
  • Signal-to-noise ratio

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry


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