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Development of a real-time RT-PCR assay for the simultaneous identification, quantitation and differentiation of avian metapneumovirus subtypes A and B

Cecchinato, Mattia, Lupini, Caterina, Munoz Pogoreltseva, Olga Svetlana, Listorti, Valeria, Mondin, Alessandra, Drigo, Michele, Catelli, Elena
Avian pathology 2013 v.42 no.3 pp. 283-289
Avian metapneumovirus, RNA, birds, detection limit, disease diagnosis, genes, monitoring, pathogens, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction, viruses
In recent years, special attention has been paid to real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for avian metapneumovirus (AMPV) diagnosis, due to its numerous advantages over classical PCR. A new multiplex quantitative real-time reverse transcription-PCR (qRT-PCR) with molecular beacon probe assay, designed to target the SH gene, was developed. The test was evaluated in terms of specificity, sensitivity and repeatability, and compared with conventional RT nested-PCR based on the G gene. All of the AMPV subtype A and B strains tested were amplified and specifically detected while no amplification occurred with other non-target bird respiratory pathogens. The detection limit of the assay was 10⁻⁰.⁴¹ median infectious dose/ml and 10¹.¹⁵ median infectious dose/ml when the AMPV-B strain IT/Ty/B/Vr240/87 and the AMPV-A strain IT/Ty/A/259-01/03 were used, respectively, as templates. In all cases, the amplification efficiency was approximately 2 and the error values were <0.2. Standard curves, generated either using the serial dilution of an RNA suspension or RNA extracted from the serial dilution of titrated viral suspensions as templates, exhibited good linearity (R²>0.9375) between crossing point values and virus quantities, making the assay herein designed reliable for quantification. When the newly developed qRT-PCR was compared with a conventional RT nested-PCR, it showed greater sensitivity with RNA extracted from both positive controls and from experimentally infected birds. This assay can be effectively used for the detection, identification, differentiation and quantitation of AMPV subtype A or subtype B to assist in disease diagnosis and to carry out rapid surveillance with high levels of sensitivity and specificity.