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Biosens Bioelectron ; 205: 114098, 2022 Jun 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1693895


BACKGROUND: The newly emerged SARS-CoV-2 variant of concern (VOC) Omicron is spreading quickly worldwide, which manifests an urgent need of simple and rapid assay to detect and diagnose Omicron infection and track its spread. METHODS: To design allele-specific CRISPR RNAs (crRNAs) targeting the signature mutations in the spike protein of Omicron variant, and to develop a CRISPR-Cas12a-based assay to specifically detect Omicron variant. RESULTS: Our system showed a low limit of detection of 2 copies per reaction for the plasmid DNA of Omicron variant, and could readily detect Omicron variant in 5 laboratory-confirmed clinical samples and distinguish them from 57 SARS-CoV-2 positive clinical samples (4 virus isolates and 53 oropharyngeal swab specimens) infected with wild-type (N = 8) and the variants of Alpha (N = 17), Beta (N = 17) and Delta (N = 15). The testing results could be measured by fluorescent detector or judged by naked eyes. In addition, no cross-reaction was observed when detecting 16 clinical samples infected with 9 common respiratory pathogens. CONCLUSIONS: The rapid assay could be easily set up in laboratories already conducting SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid amplification tests and implemented routinely in resource-limited settings to monitor and track the spread of Omicron variant.

Biosensing Techniques , COVID-19 , COVID-19/diagnosis , CRISPR-Cas Systems/genetics , Humans , SARS-CoV-2/genetics
Microbiol Spectr ; 9(3): e0101721, 2021 12 22.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1522923


A big challenge for the control of COVID-19 pandemic is the emergence of variants of concern (VOCs) or variants of interest (VOIs) of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), which may be more transmissible and/or more virulent and could escape immunity obtained through infection or vaccination. A simple and rapid test for SARS-CoV-2 variants is an unmet need and is of great public health importance. In this study, we designed and analytically validated a CRISPR-Cas12a system for direct detection of SARS-CoV-2 VOCs. We further evaluated the combination of ordinary reverse transcription-PCR (RT-PCR) and CRISPR-Cas12a to improve the detection sensitivity and developed a universal system by introducing a protospacer adjacent motif (PAM) near the target mutation sites through PCR primer design to detect mutations without PAM. Our results indicated that the CRISPR-Cas12a assay could readily detect the signature spike protein mutations (K417N/T, L452R/Q, T478K, E484K/Q, N501Y, and D614G) to distinguish alpha, beta, gamma, delta, kappa, lambda, and epsilon variants of SARS-CoV-2. In addition, the open reading frame 8 (ORF8) mutations (T/C substitution at nt28144 and the corresponding change of amino acid L/S) could differentiate L and S lineages of SARS-CoV-2. The low limit of detection could reach 10 copies/reaction. Our assay successfully distinguished 4 SARS-CoV-2 strains of wild type and alpha (B.1.1.7), beta (B.1.351), and delta (B.1.617.2) variants. By testing 32 SARS-CoV-2-positive clinical samples infected with the wild type (n = 5) and alpha (n = 11), beta (n = 8), and delta variants (n = 8), the concordance between our assay and sequencing was 100%. The CRISPR-based approach is rapid and robust and can be adapted for screening the emerging mutations and immediately implemented in laboratories already performing nucleic acid amplification tests or in resource-limited settings. IMPORTANCE We described CRISPR-Cas12-based multiplex allele-specific assay for rapid SARS-CoV-2 variant genotyping. The new system has the potential to be quickly developed, continuously updated, and easily implemented for screening of SARS-CoV-2 variants in resource-limited settings. This approach can be adapted for emerging mutations and implemented in laboratories already conducting SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid amplification tests using existing resources and extracted nucleic acid.

COVID-19 Testing/methods , COVID-19/virology , CRISPR-Cas Systems , SARS-CoV-2/classification , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Alleles , COVID-19/diagnosis , Databases, Nucleic Acid , Humans , Mass Screening , Mutation , Polymerase Chain Reaction , Public Health , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics