Fastidious viruses are generally detected in human body fluids by means of immunoassay or nucleic acid hybridization systems. These approaches can be difficult to apply to the detection of viruses which display variations in antigenic or genetic composition. Rotaviruses are examples of viruses which can display such variations. Recently identified antigenic variants, designated as non-group A rotaviruses, cannot be detected by immunoassays or nucleic acid hybridization assays which utilize reagents directed at group A rotavirus strains. The incomplete understanding of the extent of antigenic and genetic variation has inhibited the development of assay systems for all of the non-group A rotaviruses and has limited the study of their role in human disease. While rotaviruses display genetic variation, they all contain a genome which consists of double-stranded RNA. We utilized a monoclonal antibody to devise a sensitive assay for the measurement of double-stranded RNA and applied it to the detection of a wide range of rotaviruses. We found that the assay could detect double-stranded RNA from as few as 10 PFU of standard strains of group A rotaviruses. The assay system was also capable of detecting double-stranded RNA from several strains of group B rotaviruses isolated from calves, rats, and pigs at levels below those at which viral RNA could be visualized by means of polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, When applied to the detection of double-stranded RNA in serial stools shed by rotavirus-infected children, the assay system was capable of detecting double-stranded RNA in samples in which antigen could not be detected by immunoassay. The specific nature of the double-stranded RNA detected by this assay system could be determined by the elution of the nucleic acids from the monoclonal antibody and the reaction of the RNA with specific nucleotide probes. The measurement of double-stranded RNA offers a potential method for the sensitive detection of a wide range of rotaviruses and other members of the family Reoviridae.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Microbiology (medical)