Detection of rodent coronaviruses by use of fluorogenic reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction analysis

David G. Besselsen, April M. Wagner, Jessie K. Loganbill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assays have proved useful for the detection of mouse hepatitis virus (MHV) and rat coronavirus (RAV) in acutely infected animals and contaminated biomaterials. Fluorogenic nuclease RT-PCR assays combine RT-PCR with an internal fluorogenic hybridization probe, thereby eliminating post-PCR processing and potentially enhancing specificity. Consequently, a fluorogenic nuclease RT-PCR assay specific for rodent coronaviruses was developed. Primer and probe sequences were selected from the viral genome segment that encodes the membrane (M) protein that is highly conserved among rodent coronaviruses. Use of the fluorogenic nuclease RT-PCR detected all strains of MHV and RCV that were evaluated, but did not detect other RNA viruses that naturally infect rodents. Use of the assay detected as little as two femtograms of in vitro transcribed RNA generated from cloned amplicon, and when compared directly with mouse antibody production tests, had similar sensitivity at detecting MHV-A59 in infected cell culture lysates. Finally, use of the assay detected coronavirus RNA in tissues, cage swipes, and feces obtained from mice experimentally infected with MHV, and in tissues and cage swipes obtained from rats naturally infected with RCV. These results indicate that the fluorogenic nuclease RT-PCR assay should provide a potentially high-throughput, PCR-based method to detect rodent coronaviruses in infected rodents and contaminated biological materials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-116
Number of pages6
JournalComparative medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Veterinary


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