DAO 59:93-100 (2004)  -  doi:10.3354/dao059093

Detection of piscine nodaviruses by real-time nucleic acid sequence based amplification (NASBA)

William G. Starkey*, Rose Mary Millar, Mary E. Jenkins, Jacqueline H. Ireland, K. Fiona Muir, Randolph H. Richards

Department of Virology, Institute of Aquaculture, University of Stirling, Stirling FK9 4LA, UK

ABSTRACT: Nucleic acid sequence based amplification (NASBA) is an isothermal nucleic acid amplification procedure based on target-specific primers and probes, and the co-ordinated activity of 3 enzymes: AMV reverse transcriptase, RNase H, and T7 RNA polymerase. We have developed a real-time NASBA procedure for detection of piscine nodaviruses, which have emerged as major pathogens of marine fish. Viral RNA was isolated by guanidine thiocyanate lysis followed by purification on silica particles. Primers were designed to target sequences in the nodavirus capsid protein gene, yielding an amplification product of 120 nucleotides. Amplification products were detected in real-time with a molecular beacon (FAM labelled/methyl-red quenched) that recognised an internal region of the target amplicon. Amplification and detection were performed at 41°C for 90 min in a Corbett Research Rotorgene. Based on the detection of cell culture-derived nodavirus, and a synthetic RNA target, the real-time NASBA procedure was approximately 100-fold more sensitive than single-tube RT-PCR. When used to test a panel of 37 clinical samples (negative, n = 18; positive, n = 19), the real-time NASBA assay correctly identified all 18 negative and 19 positive samples. In comparison, the RT-PCR procedure identified all 18 negative samples, but only 16 of the positive samples. These results suggest that real-time NASBA may represent a sensitive and specific diagnostic procedure for piscine nodaviruses.

KEY WORDS: Nodavirus · NASBA · RT-PCR · Diagnostics · Nucleic acid amplification

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