Disentangling primer interactions improves SARS-CoV-2 genome sequencing by multiplex tiling PCR.
ABSTRACT: Since December 2019, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by a novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 has rapidly spread to almost every nation in the world. Soon after the pandemic was recognized by epidemiologists, a group of biologists comprising the ARTIC Network, has devised a multiplexed polymerase chain reaction (PCR) protocol and primer set for targeted whole-genome amplification of SARS-CoV-2. The ARTIC primer set amplifies 98 amplicons, which are separated only in two PCRs, across a nearly entire viral genome. The original primer set and protocol showed a fairly small amplification bias when clinical samples with relatively high viral loads were used. However, as sample's viral load become low, rapid decrease in abundances of several amplicons were seen. In this report, we will show that dimer formations between some primers are the major cause of coverage bias in the multiplex PCR. Based on this, we propose 12 alternative primers in total in the ARTIC primer set that were predicted to be involved in 14 primer interactions. The resulting primer set, version N1 (NIID-1), exhibits improved overall coverage compared to the ARTIC Network's original (V1) and modified (V3) primer set.
Project description:Rapid and cost-efficient whole-genome sequencing of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019, is critical for understanding viral transmission dynamics. Here we show that using a new multiplexed set of primers in conjunction with the Oxford Nanopore Rapid Barcode library kit allows for faster, simpler, and less expensive SARS-CoV-2 genome sequencing. This primer set results in amplicons that exhibit lower levels of variation in coverage compared to other commonly used primer sets. Using five SARS-CoV-2 patient samples with Cq values between 20 and 31, we show that high-quality genomes can be generated with as few as 10?000 reads (?5?Mbp of sequence data). We also show that mis-classification of barcodes, which may be more likely when using the Oxford Nanopore Rapid Barcode library prep, is unlikely to cause problems in variant calling. This method reduces the time from RNA to genome sequence by more than half compared to the more standard ligation-based Oxford Nanopore library preparation method at considerably lower costs.
Project description:Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a newly emerging human infectious disease caused by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2, also previously known as 2019-nCoV). Within 8 months of the outbreak, more than 10,000,000 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed worldwide. Since human-to-human transmission occurs easily and the rate of human infection is rapidly increasing, sensitive and early diagnosis is essential to prevent a global outbreak. Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced various primer-probe sets for SARS-CoV-2 developed at different institutions: China Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC, China), Charité (Germany), The University of Hong Kong (HKU, Hong Kong), National Institute of Infectious Diseases in Japan (Japan NIID, Japan), National Institute of Health in Thailand (Thailand NIH, Thailand), and US CDC (USA). In this study, we compared the ability to detect SARS-CoV-2 RNA among seven primer-probe sets for the N gene and three primer-probe sets for the Orf1 gene. The results revealed that "NIID_2019-nCOV_N" from the Japan NIID and "ORF1ab" from China CDC represent a recommendable performance of RT-qPCR analysis for SARS-CoV-2 molecular diagnostics without nonspecific amplification and cross-reactivity for hCoV-229E, hCoV-OC43, and MERS-CoV RNA. Therefore, the appropriate combination of NIID_2019-nCOV_N (Japan NIID) and ORF1ab (China CDC) sets should be selected for sensitive and reliable SARS-CoV-2 molecular diagnostics.
Project description:Background and Objectives:The new beta-coronavirus, which caused Severe Acute Respiratory Coronavirus-2 Syndrome (SARS-CoV-2), a major respiratory outbreak in Wuhan, China in December 2019, is now prevalent in many countries around the world. Identifying PCR-based viruses is a well-known and relatively stable protocol. Unfortunately, the high mutation rates may lead to widespread changes in viral nucleic acid sequences, and so using specific primers for PCR can be recommended. In this study, we evaluated the power of a conventional RT-PCR to detect SARS-CoV-2 RNA among the five set primer sets. Materials and Methods:The five genomic regions of the Coronavirus SARS-2 virus including Nucleocapsids (N), Envelope (E), RNA depended RNA Polymerase (RdRp), ORF1ab and Spike (S) were selected for primer designing. A conventional RT-PCR was performed to compare sensitivity, specificity and other analytical characteristics of primers designed against two Real Time PCR commercial kits. Results:The result of the comparative analysis showed that the ORF1ab, N and RdRp primers had a sensitivity, specificity and positive predictive value higher than other primers. A significant difference in the analytical sensitivity between the studied primer sets in RT-PCR kits was observed. Conclusion:In this study, the ORF1ab, Nucleocapsid and RdRp regions have the best primers for identifying the SARS-CoV-2 RNA between different genes that have been suggested.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) which emerged in the city of Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, has spread worldwide and is threatening human life. The detection of SARS-CoV-2 is critical for preventing new outbreaks, curbing disease spread, and managing patients. Currently, a reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay is used to detect the virus in clinical laboratories. However, although this assay is considered to have high specificity, its sensitivity is reportedly as low as 60-70 %. Improved sensitivity is, therefore, urgently required. METHODS:We used the primers and single-quencher probes recommended by the CDC (N1, N2 and N3) in the USA and the NIID (N1 and N2) in Japan. In addition, we designed double-quencher probes according to the virus sequence provided by the NIID to develop a further assay (termed the YCH assay [N1 and N2]). Using these assays, we conducted RT-PCR with serially diluted DNA positive controls to assess and compare the detection sensitivity of the three assays. Furthermore, 66 nasopharyngeal swabs were tested to determine the diagnostic performances. RESULTS:The threshold cycle (Ct) value of the RT-PCR was relatively low for the CDC and YCH assays compared with the NIID assay. Serial dilution assays showed that both the CDC and YCH assays could detect low copy numbers of the DNA positive control. The background fluorescence signal at the baseline was lower for the YCH assay compared with the NIID assay. We assessed the diagnostic performance between single- (NIID) and double-quencher (YCH) probes using 66 nasopharyngeal swabs. When the results of YCH-N2 assay were used as a reference, each assay detected SARS-CoV-2 with positive percent agreements of 56 % for NIID-N1, 61 % for YCH-N1, and 94 % for NIID-N2, and 100 % negative percent agreements for NIID-N1, YCH-N1 and NIID-N2. CONCLUSION:Double-quencher probes decreased the background fluorescence and improved the detection sensitivity of RT-PCR for SARS-CoV-2.
Project description:Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is an acute newly emerged infectious respiratory illness. The etiologic agent of SARS was named 'SARS-associated coronavirus' (SARS-CoV) that can be detected with reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assays. In this study, 12 sets of nested primers covering the SARS-CoV genome have been screened and showed sufficient sensitivity to detect SARS-CoV in RNA isolated from virus cultured in Vero 6 cells. To optimize further the reaction condition of those nested primers sets, seven sets of nested primers have been chosen to compare their reverse transcribed efficiency with specific and random primers, which is useful to combine RT with the first round of PCR into a one-step RT-PCR. Based on the sensitivity and simplicity of results, the no. 73 primer set was chosen as the candidate primer set for clinical diagnoses. To specify the amplicon to minimize false positive results, a Taqman RT-nested PCR system of no. 73 nested primer set was developed. Through investigations on a test panel of whole blood obtained from 30 SARS patients and 9 control persons, the specificity and sensitivity of the Taqman RT-nested PCR system was found to be 100 and 83%, respectively, which suggests that the method is a promising one to diagnose SARS in early stages.
Project description:Genome sequencing of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is increasingly important to monitor the transmission and adaptive evolution of the virus. The accessibility of high-throughput methods and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) has facilitated a growing ecosystem of protocols. Two differing protocols are tiling multiplex PCR and bait capture enrichment. Each method has advantages and disadvantages but a direct comparison with different viral RNA concentrations has not been performed to assess the performance of these approaches. Here we compare Liverpool amplification, ARTIC amplification, and bait capture using clinical diagnostics samples. All libraries were sequenced using an Illumina MiniSeq with data analyzed using a standardized bioinformatics workflow (SARS-CoV-2 Illumina GeNome Assembly Line; SIGNAL). One sample showed poor SARS-CoV-2 genome coverage and consensus, reflective of low viral RNA concentration. In contrast, the second sample had a higher viral RNA concentration, which yielded good genome coverage and consensus. ARTIC amplification showed the highest depth of coverage results for both samples, suggesting this protocol is effective for low concentrations. Liverpool amplification provided a more even read coverage of the SARS-CoV-2 genome, but at a lower depth of coverage. Bait capture enrichment of SARS-CoV-2 cDNA provided results on par with amplification. While only two clinical samples were examined in this comparative analysis, both the Liverpool and ARTIC amplification methods showed differing efficacy for high and low concentration samples. In addition, amplification-free bait capture enriched sequencing of cDNA is a viable method for generating a SARS-CoV-2 genome sequence and for identification of amplification artifacts.
Project description:An epidemic of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) causing coronavirus diseases (C0VID-19) initially reported in Wuhan, China has rapidly emerged into a global pandemic affecting millions of people worldwide. Molecular detection of SARS-CoV-2 using reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) forms the mainstay in screening, diagnosis and epidemiology of the disease. Since the virus evolves by accumulating base substitutions, mutations in the viral genome could possibly affect the accuracy of RT-PCR-based detection assays. The recent availability of genomes of SARS-CoV-2 isolates motivated us to assess the presence and potential impact of variations in target sites of the oligonucleotide primers and probes used in molecular diagnosis. We catalogued a total of 132 primer or probe sequences from literature and data available in the public domain. Our analysis revealed that a total of 5862 unique genetic variants mapped to at least one of the 132 primer or probe binding sites in the genome. A total of 29 unique variants were present in ? 1% of genomes from at least one of the continents (Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, North America, and South America) that mapped to 36 unique primers or probes binding sites. Similarly, a total of 27 primer or probe binding sites had cumulative variants frequency of ? 1% in the global SARS-CoV-2 genomes. These included primers or probes sites which are used worldwide for molecular diagnosis as well as approved by national and international agencies. We also found 286 SARS-CoV-2 genomic regions with low variability at a continuous stretch of ? 20bps that could be potentially used for primer designing. This highlights the need for sequencing genomes of emerging pathogens to enable evidence-based policies for development and approval of diagnostics.
Project description:Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is the causative agent of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Sequencing the viral genome as the outbreak progresses is important, particularly in the identification of emerging isolates with different pathogenic potential and to identify whether nucleotide changes in the genome will impair clinical diagnostic tools such as real-time PCR assays. Although single nucleotide polymorphisms and point mutations occur during the replication of coronaviruses, one of the biggest drivers in genetic change is recombination. This can manifest itself in insertions and/or deletions in the viral genome. Therefore, sequencing strategies that underpin molecular epidemiology and inform virus biology in patients should take these factors into account. A long amplicon/read length-based RT-PCR sequencing approach focused on the Oxford Nanopore MinION/GridION platforms was developed to identify and sequence the SARS-CoV-2 genome in samples from patients with or suspected of COVID-19. The protocol, termed Rapid Sequencing Long Amplicons (RSLAs) used random primers to generate cDNA from RNA purified from a sample from a patient, followed by single or multiplex PCRs to generate longer amplicons of the viral genome. The base protocol was used to identify SARS-CoV-2 in a variety of clinical samples and proved sensitive in identifying viral RNA in samples from patients that had been declared negative using other nucleic acid-based assays (false negative). Sequencing the amplicons revealed that a number of patients had a proportion of viral genomes with deletions.
Project description:In December 2019, a new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak occurred in Wuhan, China. Severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2), which is the seventh coronavirus known to infect humans, is highly contagious and has rapidly expanded worldwide since its discovery. Quantitative nucleic acid testing has become the gold standard for diagnosis and guiding clinical decisions regarding the use of antiviral therapy. However, the RT-qPCR assays targeting SARS-CoV-2 have a number of challenges, especially in terms of primer design. Primers are the pivotal components of a RT-qPCR assay. Once virus mutation and recombination occur, it is difficult to effectively diagnose viral infection by existing RT-qPCR primers. Some primers and probes have also been made available on the WHO website for reference. However, no previous review has systematically compared the previously reported primers and probes and described how to design new primers in the event of a new coronavirus infection. This review focuses on how primers and probes can be designed methodically and rationally, and how the sensitivity and specificity of the detection process can be improved. This brief review will be useful for the accurate diagnosis and timely treatment of the new coronavirus pneumonia.
Project description:Nearly 400,000 people worldwide are known to have been infected with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) beginning in December 2019. The virus has now spread to over 168 countries including the United States, where the first cluster of cases was observed in the Seattle metropolitan area in Washington. Given the rapid increase in the number of cases in many localities, the availability of accurate, high-throughput SARS-CoV-2 testing is vital to efforts to manage the current public health crisis. In the course of optimizing SARS-CoV-2 testing performed by the University of Washington Clinical Virology Lab (UW Virology Lab), we evaluated assays using seven different primer-probe sets and one assay kit. We found that the most sensitive assays were those that used the E-gene primer-probe set described by Corman et al. (V. M. Corman, O. Landt, M. Kaiser, R. Molenkamp, et al., Euro Surveill 25:2000045, 2020, https://doi.org/10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2020.25.3.2000045) and the N2 set developed by the CDC (Division of Viral Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/rt-pcr-panel-primer-probes.pdf). All assays tested were found to be highly specific for SARS-CoV-2, with no cross-reactivity with other respiratory viruses observed in our analyses regardless of the primer-probe set or kit used. These results will provide valuable information to other clinical laboratories who are actively developing SARS-CoV-2 testing protocols at a time when increased testing capacity is urgently needed worldwide.