TitleDevelopment and evaluation of one-step TaqMan real-time reverse transcription-PCR assays targeting nucleoprotein, matrix, and hemagglutinin genes of equine influenza virus.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsLu, Z, Chambers, TM, Boliar, S, Branscum, AJ, Sturgill, TL, Timoney, PJ, Reedy, SE, Tudor, LR, Dubovi, EJ, Vickers, MLynne, Sells, S, Balasuriya, UBR
JournalJournal of clinical microbiology
Date Published2009 Dec
KeywordsViral Matrix Proteins

The objective of this study was to develop and evaluate new TaqMan real-time reverse transcription-PCR (rRT-PCR) assays by the use of the minor groove binding probe to detect a wide range of equine influenza virus (EIV) strains comprising both subtypes of the virus (H3N8 and H7N7). A total of eight rRT-PCR assays were developed, targeting the nucleoprotein (NP), matrix (M), and hemagglutinin (HA) genes of the two EIV subtypes. None of the eight assays cross-reacted with any of the other known equine respiratory viruses. Three rRT-PCR assays (EqFlu NP, M, and HA3) which can detect strains of the H3N8 subtype were evaluated using nasal swabs received for routine diagnosis and swabs collected from experimentally inoculated horses. All three rRT-PCR assays have greater specificity and sensitivity than virus isolation by egg inoculation (93%, 89%, and 87% sensitivity for EqFlu NP, EqFlu M, and EqFlu HA3 assays, respectively). These assays had analytical sensitivities of >or=10 EIV RNA molecules. Comparison of the sensitivities of rRT-PCR assays targeting the NP and M genes of both subtypes with egg inoculation and the Directigen Flu A test clearly shows that molecular assays provide the highest sensitivity. The EqFlu HA7 assay targeting the H7 HA gene is highly specific for the H7N7 subtype of EIV. It should enable highly reliable surveillance for the H7N7 subtype, which is thought to be extinct or possibly still circulating at a very low level in nature. The assays that we developed provide a fast and reliable means of EIV diagnosis and subtype identification of EIV subtypes.