A Comprehensive Phylogenetic Analysis of SARS-CoV-2: Utilizing a Novel and Convenient In-House RT-PCR Method for Characterization without Virus Culture and BSL-3 Facilities

Yen-Ju Chen, Jason C. Huang, Ching Ping Yang, Kuo Feng Hsu*, Hsin Fu Liu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

We developed a convenient method for amplifying the complete SARS-CoV-2 sequence using in-house RT-PCR without virus culture. Forty-one stored throat swabs and blood specimens were collected from eight SARS-CoV-2 infections at multiple time points. Total RNA was extracted using the QIAamp viral RNA mini kit and pooled for higher RNA levels. Only those positive specimens by commercial real-time RT-PCR (RT-qPCR) were selected and amplified by in-house RT-PCR for complete sequences, followed by sequencing. Phylogenetic trees and exploratory analyses were performed using MEGA 11 and Simplot 3.5.1 software. Swab samples had significantly higher total RNA concentrations than plasma (p < 0.01). Positive results were found mainly in swabs, but one was found in plasma. Successful gene amplification depended on Ct values (Ct < 38). A non-synonymous substitution was found in ORF1ab/Nsp3 (at NC045512.2 position 6312, C to A) and most spike protein mutations occurred in the S1 subunit (residues 14–685). The proposed method is time-saving and reliable for rapid genomic analysis. Increasing sample volume and pooling them for RNA extraction increases RNA concentration without culture. Combining nucleotide sequences from specific variable regions of the genome is more efficient than conventional methods.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1562
JournalViruses
Volume15
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2023

Keywords

  • amino acid usage patterns
  • clinical specimens
  • COVID-19
  • in-house reverse transcription PCR
  • SARS-CoV-2

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