Theranostics 2018; 8(6):1678-1689. doi:10.7150/thno.22502

Research Paper

Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS) for the Multiplex Detection of Braf, Kras, and Pik3ca Mutations in Plasma of Colorectal Cancer Patients

Xiaozhou Li1,2✉, Tianyue Yang1, Caesar Siqi Li3, Youtao Song4, Hong Lou2, Dagang Guan5, Lili Jin2

1. School of Science, Shenyang Ligong University, 110159, Shenyang, China
2. School of Life Science, Liaoning University, 110036, Shenyang, China
3. College of Medicine, Northeast Ohio Medical University, 44272, Rootstown, USA
4. College of Environmental Sciences, Liaoning University, 110036, Shenyang, China
5. Oncology Department, Shengjing Hospital of China Medical University, 110022, Shenyang, China


In this paper, we discuss the use of a procedure based on polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) (PCR-SERS) to detect DNA mutations.

Methods: This method was implemented by first amplifying DNA-containing target mutations, then by annealing probes, and finally by applying SERS detection. The obtained SERS spectra were from a mixture of fluorescence tags labeled to complementary sequences on the mutant DNA. Then, the SERS spectra of multiple tags were decomposed to component tag spectra by multiple linear regression (MLR).

Results: The detection limit was 10-11 M with a coefficient of determination (R2) of 0.88. To demonstrate the applicability of this process on real samples, the PCR-SERS method was applied on blood plasma taken from 49 colorectal cancer patients to detect six mutations located at the BRAF, KRAS, and PIK3CA genes. The mutation rates obtained by the PCR-SERS method were in concordance with previous research. Fisher's exact test showed that only two detected mutations at BRAF (V600E) and PIK3CA (E542K) were significantly positively correlated with right-sided colon cancer. No other clinical feature such as gender, age, cancer stage, or differentiation was correlated with mutation (V600E at BRAF, G12C, G12D, G12V, G13D at KRAS, and E542K at PIK3CA). Visually, a dendrogram drawn through hierarchical clustering analysis (HCA) supported the results of Fisher's exact test. The clusters drawn by all six mutations did not conform to the distributions of cancer stages, differentiation or cancer positions. However, the cluster drawn by the two mutations of V600E and E542K showed that all samples with those mutations belonged to the right-sided colon cancer group.

Conclusion: The suggested PCR-SERS method is multiplexed, flexible in probe design, easy to incorporate into existing PCR conditions, and was sensitive enough to detect mutations in blood plasma.

Keywords: colorectal cancer, gene, surface enhanced Raman scattering, PCR, mutation

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How to cite this article:
Li X, Yang T, Li CS, Song Y, Lou H, Guan D, Jin L. Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS) for the Multiplex Detection of Braf, Kras, and Pik3ca Mutations in Plasma of Colorectal Cancer Patients. Theranostics 2018; 8(6):1678-1689. doi:10.7150/thno.22502. Available from