Portable Detection of Melamine in Milk Using a Personal Glucose Meter Based on an in Vitro Selected Structure-Switching Aptamer

Chunmei Gu, Tian Lan, Hanchang Shi, Yi Lu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Melamine detection in milk and other foods has attracted much attention since the discovery that melamine-adulterated food causes severe kidney damage. Although many methods have been developed to detect melamine, few methods can provide quantitative results using an affordable and portable device that is suitable for home use or field application. To achieve this goal, we herein report the first in vitro selection of a melamine responsive aptamer using a structure-switching method. A personal glucose meter (PGM) based melamine sensor was designed and subsequently tested using the newly isolated aptamer. Conversion of melamine concentration to glucose amount was achieved by including an invertase-conjugated DNA that is complementary to part of the aptamer. Melamine binding triggers the release of the invertase-DNA conjugate, which hydrolyzes sucrose into glucose. The glucose produced is then measured directly using an off-the-shelf PGM. The described sensor shows high selectivity for melamine against several closely related melamine analogues, such as cyanuric acid, ammeline, and ammelide, and has low detection limits of 0.33 μM (or 41.1 ppb) in buffer and 0.53 μM (or 67.5 ppb) in 80% whole milk without any pretreatment. The detection limits meet the threshold of 2.5 ppm for non-infant-formula products and 1 ppm for melamine in infant milk products as defined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In addition to the PGM sensor demonstrated here, the same aptamer can be converted into other types of sensors with different signal outputs, allowing portable detection of melamine under a variety of conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7676-7682
Number of pages7
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 4 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry


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