Design, development, and validation of a strand-specific RT-qPCR assay for GI and GII human Noroviruses.

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König, Katja Marie Kjara 
Nayak, Komal 
Drumright, Lydia N 
Zibauer, Matthias 

Human noroviruses (HuNoV) are the major cause of viral gastroenteritis worldwide. Similar to other positive-sense single-stranded RNA viruses, norovirus RNA replication requires the formation of a negative strand RNA intermediate. Methods for detecting and quantifying the viral positive or negative sense RNA in infected cells and tissues can be used as important tools in dissecting virus replication. In this study, we have established a sensitive and strand-specific Taqman-based quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) assay for both genogroups GI and GII HuNoV. This assay shows good reproducibility, has a broad dynamic range and is able to detect a diverse range of isolates. We used tagged primers containing a non-viral sequence for the reverse transcription (RT) reaction and targeted this tag in the succeeding qPCR reaction to achieve strand specificity. The specificity of the assay was confirmed by the detection of specific viral RNA strands in the presence of high levels of the opposing strands, in both RT and qPCR reactions. Finally, we further validated the assay in norovirus replicon-bearing cell lines and norovirus-infected human small intestinal organoids, in the presence or absence of small-molecule inhibitors. Overall, we have established a strand-specific qPCR assay that can be used as a reliable method to understand the molecular details of the human norovirus life cycle.

HuNoV replicon, RT-qPCR, calicivirus, human intestinal organoids, human norovirus, intestinal epithelial cells, strand-specific RT-qPCR, viral gastroenteritis
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Wellcome Open Res
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F1000 Research Ltd
Wellcome Trust (207498/Z/17/Z)
MRC (MR/T001917/1)