The article describes a new technology for real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) detection of nucleic acids. Similar to Taqman, this new method, named Snake, utilizes the 5′-nuclease activity of Thermus aquaticus (Taq) DNA polymerase that cleaves dual-labeled Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) probes and generates a fluorescent signal during PCR. However, the mechanism of the probe cleavage in Snake is different. In this assay, PCR amplicons fold into stem–loop secondary structures. Hybridization of FRET probes to one of these structures leads to the formation of optimal substrates for the 5′-nuclease activity of Taq. The stem–loop structures in the Snake amplicons are introduced by the unique design of one of the PCR primers, which carries a special 5′-flap sequence. It was found that at a certain length of these 5′-flap sequences the folded Snake amplicons have very little, if any, effect on PCR yield but benefit many aspects of the detection process, particularly the signal productivity. Unlike Taqman, the Snake system favors the use of short FRET probes with improved fluorescence background. The head-to-head comparison study of Snake and Taqman revealed that these two technologies have more differences than similarities with respect to their responses to changes in PCR protocol, e.g. the variations in primer concentration, annealing time, PCR asymmetry. The optimal PCR protocol for Snake has been identified. The technology’s real-time performance was compared to a number of conventional assays including Taqman, 3′-MGB-Taqman, Molecular Beacon and Scorpion primers. The test trial showed that Snake supersedes the conventional assays in the signal productivity and detection of sequence variations as small as single nucleotide polymorphisms. Due to the assay’s cost-effectiveness and simplicity of design, the technology is anticipated to quickly replace all known conventional methods currently used for real-time nucleic acid detection.
In order to establish an accurate, ready-to-use assay for simultaneous detection of Eastern equine encephalitis virus (EEEV) and Western equine encephalitis virus (WEEV), we developed one duplex TaqMan real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay, which can be used in human and vector surveillance. First, we selected the primers and FAM-labeled TaqMan-probe specific for WEEV from the consensus sequence of NSP3 and the primers and HEX-labeled TaqMan-probe specific for EEEV from the consensus sequence of E3, respectively. Then we constructed and optimized the duplex real-time RT-PCR assay by adjusting the concentrations of primers and probes. Using a series of dilutions of transcripts containing target genes as template, we showed that the sensitivity of the assay reached 1 copy/reaction for EEEV and WEEV, and the performance was linear within the range of at least 106 transcript copies. Moreover, we evaluated the specificity of the duplex system using other encephalitis virus RNA as template, and found no cross-reactivity. Compared with virus isolation, the gold standard, the duplex real time RT-PCR assay we developed was 10-fold more sensitive for both WEEV and EEEV detection.
Scorpion primers can be used to detect PCR products in homogeneous solution. Their structure promotes a unimolecular probing mechanism. We compare their performance with that of the same probe sequence forced to act in a bimolecular manner. The data suggest that Scorpions indeed probe by a unimolecular mechanism which is faster and more efficient than the bimolecular mechanism. This mechanism is not dependent on enzymatic cleavage of the probe. A direct comparison between Scorpions, TaqMan and Molecular Beacons on a Roche LightCycler indicates that Scorpions perform better, particularly under fast cycling conditions. Development of a cystic fibrosis mutation detection assay shows that Scorpion primers are selective enough to detect single base mutations and give good sensitivity in all cases. Simultaneous detection of both normal and mutant alleles in a single reaction is possible by combining two Scorpions in a multiplex reaction. Such favourable properties of Scorpion primers should make the technology ideal in numerous applications.
Enterovirus (EV) infections are commonly associated with encephalitis and meningitis. Detection of enteroviral RNA in clinical specimens has been demonstrated to improve the management of patients, by ruling out other causes of disease.
To develop a sensitive and reliable assay for routine laboratory diagnosis, we developed a real-time one step reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay with minor groove binder probes and primers modified with complementary locked primer technology (TMC-PCR). We checked the sensitivity of the developed assay by comparing it to a previously published TaqMan probe real-time one-step RT-PCR (TTN-PCR) procedure using enteroviral isolates, Enterovirus Proficiency panels from Quality Control on Molecular Diagnostics (QCMD-2007), and clinical specimens from patients with suspected EV infections.
One hundred clinical specimens from 158 suspected viral meningitis cases were determined to be positive by the TMC-PCR assay (63.29%), whereas only 60 were found to be positive by the TTN-PCR assay (37.97%). The positive and negative agreements between the TMC-PCR and TTN-PCR assays were 100% and 59.2%, respectively.
This data suggest that the TMC-PCR assay may be suitable for routine diagnostic screening from patient suspected EV infection.
Aseptic meningitis; Real-time one step RT-PCR; CLP; MGB probe
A TaqMan-based real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay was devised for the detection of porcine parvovirus (PPV). Two primers and a TaqMan probe for the non-structural protein NS1 gene were designed. The detection limit was 1 × 102 DNA copies/μL, and the assay was linear in the range of 1 × 102 to 1 × 109 copies/μL. There was no cross-reaction with porcine circovirus 2 (PCV2), porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV), pseudorabies virus (PRV), classical swine fever virus (CSFV), or Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV). The assay was specific and reproducible. In 41 clinical samples, PPV was detected in 32 samples with the real-time PCR assay and in only 11 samples with a conventional PCR assay. The real-time assay using the TaqMan-system can therefore be practically used for studying the epidemiology and management of PPV.
Scorpions are fluorogenic PCR primers with a probe element attached at the 5′-end via a PCR stopper. They are used in real-time amplicon-specific detection of PCR products in homogeneous solution. Two different formats are possible, the ‘stem–loop’ format and the ‘duplex’ format. In both cases the probing mechanism is intramolecular. We have shown that duplex Scorpions are efficient probes in real-time PCR. They give a greater fluorescent signal than stem–loop Scorpions due to the vastly increased separation between fluorophore and quencher in the active form. We have demonstrated their use in allelic discrimination at the W1282X locus of the ABCC7 gene and shown that they can be used in assays where fluorescence resonance energy transfer is required.
The real-time polymerase chain reaction is currently the method of choice for quantifying nucleic acids in different DNA based quantification applications. It is widely used also for detecting and quantifying genetically modified components in food and feed, predominantly employing TaqMan® and SYBR® Green real-time PCR chemistries. In our study four alternative chemistries: Lux™, Plexor™, Cycling Probe Technology and LNA® were extensively evaluated and compared using TaqMan® chemistry as a reference system.
Amplicons were designed on the maize invertase gene and the 5'-junction of inserted transgene and plant genomic DNA in MON 810 event. Real-time assays were subsequently compared for their efficiency in PCR amplification, limits of detection and quantification, repeatability and accuracy to test the performance of the assays. Additionally, the specificity of established assays was checked on various transgenic and non-transgenic plant species. The overall applicability of the designed assays was evaluated, adding practicability and costs issues to the performance characteristics.
Although none of the chemistries significantly outperformed the others, there are certain characteristics that suggest that LNA® technology is an alternative to TaqMan® when designing assays for quantitative analysis. Because LNA® probes are much shorter they might be especially appropriate when high specificity is required and where the design of a common TaqMan® probe is difficult or even impossible due to sequence characteristics. Plexor™ on the other hand might be a method of choice for qualitative analysis when sensitivity, low cost and simplicity of use prevail.
Diagnostic systems based on reverse transcription (RT)-PCR are widely used for the detection of viral genomes in different human specimens. The application of internal controls (IC) to monitor each step of nucleic acid amplification is necessary to prevent false-negative results due to inhibition or human error. In this study, we designed various real-time RT-PCRs utilizing the coliphage MS2 replicase gene, which differ in detection format, amplicon size, and efficiency of amplification. These noncompetitive IC assays, using TaqMan, hybridization probe, or duplex scorpion probe techniques, were tested on the LightCycler and Rotorgene systems. In our approach, clinical specimens were spiked with the control virus to monitor the efficiency of extraction, reverse transcription, and amplification steps. The MS2 RT-PCR assays were applied for internal control when using a second target hepatitis C virus RNA in duplex PCR in blood donor screening. The 95% detection limit was calculated by probit analysis to 44.9 copies per PCR (range, 38.4 to 73.4). As demonstrated routinely, application of MS2 IC assays exhibits low variability and can be applied in various RT-PCR assays. MS2 phage lysates were obtained under standard laboratory conditions. The quantification of phage and template RNA was performed by plating assays to determine PFU or via real-time RT-PCR. High stability of the MS2 phage preparations stored at −20°C, 4°C, and room temperature was demonstrated.
Molecular beacon probes can be employed in a NASBA amplicon detection system to generate a specific fluorescent signal concomitantly with amplification. A molecular beacon, designed to hybridize within the target sequence, was introduced into NASBA reactions that amplify the genomic RNA of potato leafroll virus (PLRV). During amplification, the probe anneals to the antisense RNA amplicon generated by NASBA, producing a specific fluorescent signal that can be monitored in real-time. The assay is rapid, sensitive and specific. As RNA amplification and detection can be carried out in unopened vessels, it minimizes the risk of carry-over contaminations. Robustness has been verified on real-world samples. This homogeneous assay, called AmpliDet RNA, is a significant improvement over current detection methods for NASBA amplicons and is suitable for one-tube applications ranging from high-throughput diagnostics to in vivo studies of biological activities.
The role of non-avian vertebrates in the ecology of eastern equine encephalomyelitis virus (EEEV) is unresolved, but mounting evidence supports a potential role for snakes in the EEEV transmission cycle, especially as over-wintering hosts. To determine rates of exposure and infection, we examined serum samples from wild snakes at a focus of EEEV in Alabama for viral RNA using quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction. Two species of vipers, the copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix) and the cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus), were found to be positive for EEEV RNA using this assay. Prevalence of EEEV RNA was more frequent in seropositive snakes than seronegative snakes. Positivity for the quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction in cottonmouths peaked in April and September. Body size and sex ratios were not significantly different between infected and uninfected snakes. These results support the hypothesis that snakes are involved in the ecology of EEEV in North America, possibly as over-wintering hosts for the virus.
Described in the article is a new approach for the sequence-specific detection of nucleic acids in real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) using fluorescently labeled oligonucleotide probes. The method is based on the production of PCR amplicons, which fold into dumbbell-like secondary structures carrying a specially designed ‘probe-luring’ sequence at their 5′ ends. Hybridization of this sequence to a complementary ‘anchoring’ tail introduced at the 3′ end of a fluorescent probe enables the probe to bind to its target during PCR, and the subsequent probe cleavage results in the florescence signal. As it has been shown in the study, this amplicon-endorsed and guided formation of the probe-target duplex allows the use of extremely short oligonucleotide probes, up to tetranucleotides in length. In particular, the short length of the fluorescent probes makes possible the development of a ‘universal’ probe inventory that is relatively small in size but represents all possible sequence variations. The unparalleled cost-effectiveness of the inventory approach is discussed. Despite the short length of the probes, this new method, named Angler real-time PCR, remains highly sequence specific, and the results of the study indicate that it can be effectively used for quantitative PCR and the detection of polymorphic variations.
We have developed a hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA detection and quantification system based on amplification with nucleic acid sequence-based amplification (NASBA) technology and real-time detection with molecular beacon technology. NASBA is normally applied to amplify single-stranded target RNA, producing RNA amplicons. In this work we show that with modifications like primer design, sample extraction method, and template denaturation, the NASBA technique can be made suitable for DNA target amplification resulting in RNA amplicons. A major advantage of our assay is the one-tube, isothermal nature of the method, which allows high-throughput applications for nucleic acid detection. The homogeneous real-time detection allows a closed-tube format of the assay, avoiding any postamplification handling of amplified material and therefore minimizing the risk of contamination of subsequent reactions. The assay has a detection range of 103 to 109 HBV DNA copies/ml of plasma or serum (6 logs), with good reproducibility and precision. Compared with other HBV DNA assays, our assay provides good sensitivity, a wide dynamic range, and high-throughput applicability, making it a viable alternative to those based on other amplification or detection methods.
Identification of Anopheles gambiae s.s. and Anopheles arabiensis from field-collected Anopheles gambiae s.l. is often necessary in basic and applied research, and in operational control programmes. The currently accepted method involves use of standard polymerase chain reaction amplification of ribosomal DNA (rDNA) from the 3' 28S to 5' intergenic spacer region of the genome, and visual confirmation of amplicons of predicted size on agarose gels, after electrophoresis. This report describes development and evaluation of an automated, quantitative PCR method based upon TaqMan™ single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotyping.
Standard PCR, and TaqMan SNP genotyping with newly designed primers and fluorophore-labeled probes hybridizing to sequences of complementary rDNA specific for either An. gambiae s.s. or An. arabiensis, were conducted in three experiments involving field-collected An. gambiae s.l. from western Kenya, and defined laboratory strains. DNA extraction was from a single leg, sonicated for five minutes in buffer in wells of 96-well PCR plates.
TaqMan SNP genotyping showed a reaction success rate, sensitivity, and species specificity comparable to that of standard PCR. In an extensive field study, only 29 of 3,041 (0.95%) were determined to be hybrids by TaqMan (i.e., having rDNA sequences from both species), however, all but one were An. arabiensis by standard PCR, suggesting an acceptably low (ca. 1%) error rate for TaqMan genotyping in mistakenly identifying species hybrids.
TaqMan SNP genotyping proved to be a sensitive and rapid method for identification of An. gambiae s.l. and An. arabiensis, with a high success rate, specific results, and congruence with the standard PCR method.
The hepatitis C virus (HCV) genome is extremely heterogeneous. Several HCV infections can not be detected using currently available commercial assays, probably because of mismatches between the template and primers/probes. By aligning the HCV sequences, we developed a duplex real-time reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay using 2 sets of primers/probes and a specific armored RNA as internal control. The 2 detection probes were labelled with the same fluorophore, namely, 6-carboxyfluorescein (FAM), at the 5' end; these probes could mutually combine, improving the power of the test.
The limit of detection of the duplex primer/probe assay was 38.99 IU/ml. The sensitivity of the assay improved significantly, while the specificity was not affected. All HCV genotypes in the HCV RNA Genotype Panel for Nucleic Acid Amplification Techniques could be detected. In the testing of 109 serum samples, the performance of the duplex real-time RT-PCR assay was identical to that of the COBAS AmpliPrep (CAP)/COBAS TaqMan (CTM) assay and superior to 2 commercial HCV assay kits.
The duplex real-time RT-PCR assay is an efficient and effective viral assay. It is comparable with the CAP/CTM assay with regard to the power of the test and is appropriate for blood-donor screening and laboratory diagnosis of HCV infection.
Zip nucleic acids (ZNAs) are oligonucleotides conjugated with cationic spermine units that increase affinity for their target. ZNAs were recently shown to enable specific and sensitive reactions when used as primers for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and reverse-transcription. Here, we report their use as quantitative PCR hydrolysis probes. Ultraviolet duplex melting data demonstrate that attachment of cationic residues to the 3′ end of an oligonucleotide does not alter its ability to discriminate nucleotides nor the destabilization pattern relative to mismatch location in the oligonucleotide sequence. The stability increase provided by the cationic charges allows the use of short dual-labeled probes that significantly improve single-nucleotide polymorphism genotyping. Longer ZNA probes were shown to display reduced background fluorescence, therefore, generating greater sensitivity and signal level as compared to standard probes. ZNA probes thus provide broad flexibility in assay design and also represent an effective alternative to minor groove binder- and locked nucleic-acid-containing probes.
A novel real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method using an attached universal template (UT) probe is described. The UT is an approximately 20 base attachment to the 5′ end of a PCR primer, and it can hybridize with a complementary TaqMan probe. One of the advantages of this method is that different target DNA sequences can be detected employing the same UT probe, which substantially reduces the cost of real-time PCR set-up. In addition, this method could be used for simultaneous detection using a 6-carboxy-fluorescein-labeled UT probe for the target gene and a 5-hexachloro-fluorescein-labeled UT probe for the reference gene in a multiplex reaction. Moreover, the requirement of target DNA length for UT–PCR analysis is relatively flexible, and it could be as short as 56 bp in this report, suggesting the possibility of detecting target DNA from partially degraded samples. The UT–PCR system with degenerate primers could also be designed to screen homologous genes. Taken together, our results suggest that the UT–PCR technique is efficient, reliable, inexpensive and less labor-intensive for quantitative PCR analysis.
Quantification of T-cell receptor (TCR) chain families can be utilized for detection of clonal T-cell populations. Besides southern blotting and antibody-based approaches, quantitative real time PCR (qRT PCR) has been more widely applied in this context during the last years. Here, the heterogeneity of sequences within single families is the most challenging problem for exact quantification.
Vβ-families were quantified using a universal reverse primer and family-specific forward primers with TaqMan technology on a light cycler instrument. Relative concentrations were calculated considering slopes and crossing points of each PCR reaction. Total expression of α/β TCR was assessed by quantification of the constant α-chain as a further control.
The method was tested by serial dilutions of clonal T-cells in mononuclear cells from healthy volunteers. Calculated percentages were in good correspondence with qRT PCR results demonstrating high reliability. Duplicates showed excellent technical reproducibility. We analyzed blood samples of 20 healthy volunteers for determination of mean and standard deviation for each family. The method was applied both to tissue and blood samples from patients with carcinomas and hematological disorders.
We introduce a versatile method for the relative quantification of Vβ-families by real time PCR. The experimental strategy described allows the identification of alterations in the Vβ-family repertoire.
Polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis of DNA fragments obtained by the polymerase chain reaction using Taq polymerase revealed the presence of multiple fragments shorter than the expected product. These abortive extension products were observed even when analysis by agarose gel electrophoresis showed only a single band. The production of prematurely terminated fragments can be exploited for the sequencing of PCR products if phosphorothioate groups are incorporated base specifically during the reaction in the presence of two oligonucleotide primers, one of which is 5'-32P-labeled. The addition of snake venom phosphodiesterase to the reaction mixture after completion of the amplification cycles digests each fragment from the 3'-end to a phosphorothioate group so that the sequence can be read by polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis.
Evaluating the specificity of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) primers is an essential step in PCR primer design. The MFEprimer-2.0 server allows users to check primer specificity against genomic DNA and messenger RNA/complementary DNA sequence databases quickly and easily. MFEprimer-2.0 uses a k-mer index algorithm to accelerate the search process for primer binding sites and uses thermodynamics to evaluate binding stability between each primer and its DNA template. Several important characteristics, such as the sequence, melting temperature and size of each amplicon, either specific or non-specific, are reported on the results page. Based on these characteristics and the user-friendly output, users can readily draw conclusions about the specificity of PCR primers. Analyses for degenerate primers and multiple PCR primers are also supported in MFEprimer-2.0. In addition, the databases supported by MFEprimer-2.0 are comprehensive, and custom databases can also be supported on request. The MFEprimer-2.0 server does not require a login and is freely available at http://biocompute.bmi.ac.cn/CZlab/MFEprimer-2.0. More over, the MFEprimer-2.0 command-line version and local server version are open source and can be downloaded at https://github.com/quwubin/MFEprimer/wiki/Manual/.
Disease outbreaks caused by eastern equine encephalitis virus (EEEV; Togaviridae, Alphavirus) may be prevented by implementing effective surveillance and intervention strategies directed against the mosquito vector. Methods for EEEV detection in mosquitoes include a real-time reverse transcriptase PCR technique (TaqMan assay), but we report its failure to detect variants isolated in Connecticut in 2011, due to a single base-pair mismatch in the probe-binding site. To improve the molecular detection of EEEV, we developed a multi-target TaqMan assay by adding a second primer/probe set to provide redundant targets for EEEV detection. The multi-target TaqMan assay had similar performance characteristics to the conventional assay, but also detected newly-evolving strains of EEEV. The approach described here increases the reliability of the TaqMan assay by creating back-up targets for virus detection without sacrificing sensitivity or specificity.
Eastern equine encephalitis virus; Real-time PCR; Surveillance; TaqMan
The sensitive detection of human cells in immunodeficient rodents is a prerequisite for the monitoring of micrometastasis of solid tumours, dissemination of leukaemic cells, or engraftment of haematological cells. We developed a universally applicable polymerase chain reaction method for the detection of a human-specific 850-bp fragment of the α-satellite DNA on human chromosome 17. The method allows the detection of one human cell in 106 murine cells and could be established as both, a conventional DNA polymerase chain reaction-assay for routine screening, and a quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction-assay using TaqMan-methodology. It was applied to the following xenotransplantation systems in SCID and NOD/SCID mice: (1) In a limiting dilution assay, cells of the MDA-MB 435 breast carcinoma were injected into the mammary fat pad of NOD/SCID mice. It could be shown that 10 cells mouse−1 were sufficient to induce a positive polymerase chain reaction signal in liver and lung tissue 30 days after transplantation as an indicator for micrometastasis. At this time a palpable tumour was not yet detectable in the mammary fat pad region. (2) Cells of a newly established human acute lymphatic leukaemia were administered intraperitoneally to SCID mice. These cells apparently disseminated and were detectable as early as day 50 in the peripheral blood of living mice, while the leukaemia manifestation was delayed by day 140. (3) In a transplantation experiment using mature human lymphocytes we wanted to standardise conditions for a successful survival of these cells in NOD/SCID mice. It was established that at least 5×107 cells given intravenously were necessary and that the mice had to be conditioned by 2 Gy body irradiation to get positive polymerase chain reaction bands in several organs. (4) Engraftment studies with blood stem cells originating from cytapheresis samples of tumour patients or from cord blood were undertaken in NOD/SCID mice in order to define conditions of successful engraftment and to use this model for further optimisation strategies. The polymerase chain reaction method presented allowed a reliable prediction of positive engraftment and agreed well with the results of immunohistochemical or FACS analysis. All together, the polymerase chain reaction method developed allows a sensitive and reliable detection of low numbers of human cells in immunodeficient hosts. In combination with real-time (TaqMan) technique it allows an exact quantification of human cells. As this method can be performed with accessible material of living animals, follow up studies for the monitoring of therapeutic interventions are possible in which the survival time of mice as evaluation criteria can be omitted.
British Journal of Cancer (2002) 87, 1328–1335. doi:10.1038/sj.bjc.6600573 www.bjcancer.com
© 2002 Cancer Research UK
TaqMan PCR; xenografts; metastasis; leukaemia; haematological cells
Xenograft samples used to test anti-cancer drug efficacies and toxicities in vivo contain an unknown mix of mouse and human cells. Evaluation of drug activity can be confounded by samples containing large amounts of contaminating mouse tissue. We have developed a real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) assay using TaqMan technology to quantify the amount of mouse tissue that is incorporated into human xenograft samples.
The forward and reverse primers bind to the same DNA sequence in the human and the mouse genome. Using a set of specially designed fluorescent probes provides species specificity. The linearity and sensitivity of the assay is evaluated using serial dilutions of single species and heterogeneous DNA mixtures. We examined many xenograft samples at various in vivo passages, finding a wide variety of human:mouse DNA ratios. This variation may be influenced by tumor type, number of serial passages in vivo, and even which part of the tumor was collected and used in the assay.
This novel assay provides an accurate quantitative assessment of human and mouse content in xenograft tumors. This assay can be performed on aberrantly behaving human xenografts, samples used in bioinformatics studies, and periodically for tumor tissue frequently grown by serial passage in vivo.
In the present study, we standardized a TaqMan locked nucleic acid (LNA) real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) probe for the accurate quantification and detection of hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA in serum (plasma), and evaluated its methodology. LNA probe technology had a much better detection performance in HBV DNA than the common TaqMan probe. The assay based on the LNA probe had a wider linear detection range, higher sensitivity, stability and amplification efficiency, and a lower concentration of probes than the TaqMan probe. Among the 15 cases with chronic hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) (+) alone, only 4 cases that were detected by TaqMan real-time PCR were negative; however, the same samples were positive by LNA real-time PCR (p<0.05). A positive correlation between viral load measurements for the 35 samples with HBV-positive DNA was detected in both LNA and TaqMan real-time PCR.
human hepatitis B virus; real-time polymerase chain reaction; probe; locked nucleic acid; TaqMan
Quantification of hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA can be used for diagnosing HBV infection and monitoring the effect of antiviral therapy. However, probably because of mismatches between the template and primer/probe, HBV DNA in some HBV infections could not be detected using currently available commercial assays with single primer/probe. By aligning the HBV sequences, we developed a duplex real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay using two sets of primers/probes and a specific armored DNA as internal control (IC).
The limit of the duplex real-time PCR assay was 29.5 IU/ml, whereas the specificity was 100%. The within-run precision coefficient of variation (CV) ranged from 1.02% to 2.73%, while the between-run CV ranged from 0.83% to 1.25%. The optimal concentration of armored DNA IC in the HBV DNA duplex real-time PCR assay was 1 000 copies/ml. Data from 69 serum samples with HBV infection showed that the performance of the duplex real-time PCR assay was comparable to that of the COBAS Ampliprep/Cobas Taqman (CAP/CTM) HBV assay and was superior to those of the domestic commercial HBV assays.
The duplex real-time PCR assay is sufficiently sensitive, specific, accurate, reproducible and cost-effective for the detection of HBV DNA. It is suitable for high throughput screening and frequent HBV DNA level monitoring.
A real-time reverse-transcription PCR was developed to detect and pathotype Newcastle disease viruses (NDV) in clinical samples. Degenerate oligonucleotide primers and TaqMan probes with nonfluorescent minor groove binder (MGB) quencher amplified and hybridized to a region in the fusion protein (F) gene that corresponds to the cleavage site of the F0 precursor, which is a key determinant of NDV pathogenicity. The application of degenerate primers and TaqMan MGB probes provided high specificity to the assay, as was shown by the successful and rapid pathotype determination of 39 NDV strains representing all the known genotypes (I to VIII) and pathotypes (lentogens/mesogens/velogens). The PCR assays specific for lentogenic and velogenic/mesogenic strains had high analytical sensitivity, detecting approximately 10 and 20 copies of the target molecule per reaction, respectively. The detection limit was also determined in terms of 50% egg infective dose (EID50) by using dilution series of virus stock solutions to be approximately 101.0 and 10−1.3 EID50/ml for lentogens and velogens/mesogens, respectively. Organ, swab, and stool specimens from experimentally infected animals were tested to prove the clinical suitability of the method. The results of this study suggest that the described real-time PCR assay has the potential to be used for the rapid detection/pathotyping of NDV isolates and qualitative/quantitative measurement of the virus load.