Improved detection of dengue and Zika viruses using multiplex RT-qPCR assays

J Virol Methods. 2020 May 15;282:113862. doi: 10.1016/j.jviromet.2020.113862. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Dengue virus (DENV) and Zika virus (ZIKV) are important viral pathogens, known to cause human infections with similar symptoms, are transmitted by common vectors and co-circulate in intertropical regions. Moreover, dengue fever results from infection with one of four different serotypes of dengue virus. Considering the recent ZIKV emergence, multiplex and up-to-date assays are more preferable for detection of both viruses in a single reaction. This study aimed to develop: (i) an one-step duplex real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) assay to efficiently and simultaneously detect and quantify DENV and ZIKV; (ii) a fourplex RT-qPCR to differentiate and quantify the four DENV serotypes. The detection limit of the duplex assay was 0.028 and 0.065 FFU (focus forming unit)/ml for DENV and ZIKV respectively. The lower limit of analytical sensitivity of fourplex assay was 0.01 FFU/ml for DENV-1 and 0.1 FFU/ml for DENV-2,-3 and -4. The assessment of specificity indicated both assays were highly specific to targeted viruses with negative results for other Flaviviridae such as Japanese encephalitis, West Nile, Yellow fever or Hepatitis C viruses. The newly developed RT-qPCRs were shown to be more sensitive than a previously described assay in detecting DENV in clinical samples and are suitable for the routine diagnosis.

Keywords: Zika virus; arbovirus; dengue virus; diagnosis; fourplex real-time RT-qPCR; one-step duplex real-time RT-qPCR.