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Development and preliminary evaluation of a multiplexed amplification and next generation sequencing method for viral hemorrhagic fever diagnostics


Date: 20th November 2017 | Source: PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases

Authors: Annika Brinkmann, Koray Ergünay, Aleksandar Radonić, Zeliha Kocak Tufan, Cristina Domingo, Andreas Nitsche.


We describe the development and evaluation of a novel method for targeted amplification and Next Generation Sequencing (NGS)-based identification of viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF) agents and assess the feasibility of this approach in diagnostics.


An ultrahigh-multiplex panel was designed with primers to amplify all known variants of VHF-associated viruses and relevant controls. The performance of the panel was evaluated via serially quantified nucleic acids from Yellow fever virus, Rift Valley fever virus, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) virus, Ebola virus, Junin virus and Chikungunya virus in a semiconductor-based sequencing platform. A comparison of direct NGS and targeted amplification-NGS was performed. The panel was further tested via a real-time nanopore sequencing-based platform, using clinical specimens from CCHF patients.

Principal findings

The multiplex primer panel comprises two pools of 285 and 256 primer pairs for the identification of 46 virus species causing hemorrhagic fevers, encompassing 6,130 genetic variants of the strains involved. In silico validation revealed that the panel detected over 97% of all known genetic variants of the targeted virus species. High levels of specificity and sensitivity were observed for the tested virus strains. Targeted amplification ensured viral read detection in specimens with the lowest virus concentration (1–10 genome equivalents) and enabled significant increases in specific reads over background for all viruses investigated. In clinical specimens, the panel enabled detection of the causative agent and its characterization within 10 minutes of sequencing, with sample-to-result time of less than 3.5 hours.


Virus enrichment via targeted amplification followed by NGS is an applicable strategy for the diagnosis of VHFs which can be adapted for high-throughput or nanopore sequencing platforms and employed for surveillance or outbreak monitoring.

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