A Faster Method to Detect Norovirus in Oysters Using Probe Hybridization to Isolate Target RNA Before RT-PCR

Xunyan Ye
R.D. Ellender
Shiao Y. Wang, University of Southern Mississippi


Human Noroviruses (HuNoVs) are the most frequent cause of outbreaks of acute gastroenteritis following the ingestion of raw or improperly cooked oysters. Although highly sensitive methods to detect HuNoV in oysters using reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) are available, rapid methods to process samples for RT-PCR are still needed. The conventional approach is to concentrate the virus first before RNA purification to maximize assay sensitivity, but the procedures used are cumbersome. We developed a new hybridization method that is much faster and more effective compared to existing technology. The procedure includes an initial extraction of total RNA from the digestive diverticula of oysters using TRI Reagent, followed by HuNoV RNA purification using a capture probe and then HuNoV detection by real-time RT-PCR. The detection limit is approximately 100 PCR detection units of HuNoV per sample. Compared to published methods that require an initial virus concentration step before RNA extraction, the new method is much faster to complete. Approximately 3 h are needed to purify HuNoV RNA using the new method compared to at least 8 h using conventional methods. Coupled with real-time RT-PCR, the new method can detect HuNoV in contaminated oysters within 8 h. The effectiveness of the method was demonstrated using live artificially contaminated oysters and wild oysters.