In Silico Evaluation of CRISPR-Based Assays for Effective Detection of SARS-CoV-2

Pathogens. 2022 Aug 25;11(9):968. doi: 10.3390/pathogens11090968.


Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) caused by the SARS-CoV-2 has been an outbreak since late 2019 up to now. This pandemic causes rapid development in molecular detection technologies to diagnose viral infection for epidemic prevention. In addition to antigen test kit (ATK) and polymerase chain reaction (PCR), CRISPR-based assays for detection of SARS-CoV-2 have gained attention because it has a simple setup but still maintain high specificity and sensitivity. However, the SARS-CoV-2 has been continuing mutating over the past few years. Thus, molecular tools that rely on matching at the nucleotide level need to be reevaluated to preserve their specificity and sensitivity. Here, we analyzed how mutations in different variants of concern (VOC), including Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Omicron strains, could introduce mismatches to the previously reported primers and crRNAs used in the CRISPR-Cas system. Over 40% of the primer sets and 15% of the crRNAs contain mismatches. Hence, primers and crRNAs in nucleic acid-based assays must be chosen carefully to pair up with SARS-CoV-2 variants. In conclusion, the data obtained from this study could be useful in selecting the conserved primers and crRNAs for effective detections against the VOC of SARS-CoV-2.

Keywords: COVID-19; CRISPR; SARS-CoV-2; variants of concern.

Publication types

  • Review