Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) promotes tumor cell infiltration and metastasis. Tracking the progression of EMT could potentially indicate early cancer metastasis. A key characteristic of EMT is the dynamic alteration in the molecular levels of E-cadherin and N-cadherin. Traditional assays have limited sensitivity and multiplexing capabilities, relying heavily on cell lysis. Here, we developed a multiplex electrochemical biosensor to concurrently track the upregulation of N-cadherin expression and reduction of E-cadherin in breast cancer cells undergoing EMT. Small-sized gold nanoparticles (Au NPs) tagged with redox probes (thionin or amino ferrocene) and bound to two types of antibodies were used as distinguishable signal tags. These tags specifically recognized E-cadherin and N-cadherin proteins on the tumor cell surface without cross-reactivity. The diphenylalanine dipeptide (FF)/chitosan (CS)/Au NPs (FF-CS@Au) composites with high surface area and good biocompatibility were used as the sensing platforms for efficiently fixing cells and recording the dynamic changes in electrochemical signals of surface proteins. The electrochemical immunosensor allowed for simultaneous monitoring of E- and N-cadherins on breast cancer cell surfaces in a single run, enabling tracking of the EMT dynamic process for up to 60 h. Furthermore, the electrochemical detection results are consistent with Western blot analysis, confirming the reliability of the methodology. This present work provides an effective, rapid, and low-cost approach for tracking the EMT process, as well as valuable insights into early tumor metastasis.

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