Collection of mosquitoes and testing for vector-borne viruses is a key surveillance activity that directly influences the vector control efforts of public health agencies, including determining when and where to apply insecticides. Vector control districts in California routinely monitor for three human pathogenic viruses including West Nile virus (WNV), Western equine encephalitis virus (WEEV), and St. Louis encephalitis virus (SLEV). Reverse transcription quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) offers highly sensitive and specific detection of these three viruses in a single multiplex reaction, but this technique requires costly, specialized equipment that is generally only available in centralized public health laboratories. We report the use of reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP) to detect WNV, WEEV, and SLEV RNA extracted from pooled mosquito samples collected in California, including novel primer sets for specific detection of WEEV and SLEV, targeting the nonstructural protein 4 (nsP4) gene of WEEV and the 3' untranslated region (3'-UTR) of SLEV. Our WEEV and SLEV RT-LAMP primers allowed detection of <0.1 PFU/reaction of their respective targets in <30 minutes, and exhibited high specificity without cross reactivity when tested against a panel of alphaviruses and flavivi-ruses. Furthermore, the SLEV primers do not cross-react with WNV, despite both viruses being closely related members of the Japanese encephalitis virus complex. The SLEV and WEEV primers can also be combined in a single RT-LAMP reaction, with discrimination between amplicons by melt curve analysis. Although RT-qPCR is approximately one order of magnitude more sensitive than RT-LAMP for all three targets, the RT-LAMP technique is less instrumentally intensive than RT-qPCR and provides a more cost-effective method of vector-borne virus surveillance.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)