Serotype specific primers and gel-based RT-PCR assays for ‘typing’ African horse sickness virus: identification of strains from Africa

Maan, N. S., Maan, S., Nomikou, K. , Belaganahalli, M. N., Bachanek-Bankowska, K. and Mertens, P. P. C. (2011) Serotype specific primers and gel-based RT-PCR assays for ‘typing’ African horse sickness virus: identification of strains from Africa. PLoS ONE, 6(10), e25686. (doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0025686) (PMID:22028787) (PMCID:PMC3197586)

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African horse sickness is a devastating, transboundary animal disease, that is ‘listed’ by the Office International des Epizooties (OIE). Although attenuated, inactivated and subunit vaccines have been developed for African horse sickness virus (AHSV), these are serotype-specific and their effective deployment therefore relies on rapid and reliable identification of virus type. AHSV serotype is controlled by the specificity of interactions between neutralising antibodies, and components of the outer-capsid, particularly protein VP2 (encoded by AHSV genome segment 2 (Seg-2)). We report the development and evaluation of novel gel based reverse transcription-PCR (RT–PCR) assays targeting AHSV Seg-2, which can be used to very significantly increase the speed and reliability of detection and identification (compared to virus neutralisation tests) of the nine serotypes of AHSV. Primer sets were designed targeting regions of Seg-2 that are conserved between strains within each of the AHSV serotype (types 1 to 9). These assays were evaluated using multiple AHSV strains from the orbivirus reference collection at IAH ( In each case the Seg-2 primers showed a high level of specificity and failed to cross-amplify the most closely related heterologous AHSV types, or other related orbiviruses (such as bluetongue virus (BTV), or equine encephalosis virus (EEV)). The assays are rapid and sensitive, and can be used to detect and type viral RNA in blood, tissue samples, or cultivated viral suspensions within 24 h. They were used to identify AHSV strains from recent outbreaks in sub-Saharan African countries. These methods also generate cDNAs suitable for sequencing and phylogenetic analyses of Seg-2, identifying distinct virus lineages within each virus-type and helping to identify strain movements/origins. The RT-PCR methods described here provide a robust and versatile tool for rapid and specific detection and identification of AHSV serotypes 1 to 9.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Nomikou, Dr Kyriaki
Authors: Maan, N. S., Maan, S., Nomikou, K., Belaganahalli, M. N., Bachanek-Bankowska, K., and Mertens, P. P. C.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Infection Immunity and Inflammation
Journal Name:PLoS ONE
Publisher:Public Library of Science
ISSN (Online):1932-6203
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2011 Maan et al.
First Published:First published in PLoS ONE 6(10): e25686
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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