Magnetic purification of biotinylated cDNA removes false priming and ensures strand-specificity of RT-PCR for enteroviral RNAs

Virology Research Center, University of Sao Paulo School of Medicine, Ribeirao Preto, SP 14049-900, Brazil
Journal of virological methods (Impact Factor: 1.78). 10/2009; 161(1):147-153. DOI: 10.1016/j.jviromet.2009.06.006


The detection of replicative intermediate RNAs as markers of active replication of RNA viruses is an essential tool to investigate pathogenesis in acute viral infections, as well as in their long-term sequelae. In this regard, strand-specific PCR has been used widely to distinguish (−) and (+) enteroviral RNAs in pathogenesis studies of diseases such as dilated cardiomyopathy. It has been generally assumed that oligonucleotide-primed reverse transcription of a given RNA generates only the corresponding specific cDNA, thus assuring the specificity of a PCR product amplified from it. Nevertheless, such assumed strand-specificity is a fallacy, because falsely primed cDNAs can be produced by RNA reverse transcription in the absence of exogenously added primers, (cDNAprimer(−)), and such falsely primed cDNAs are amplifiable by PCR in the same way as the correctly primed cDNAs. Using as a prototype the coxsackievirus B5 (CVB5), a (+) strand RNA virus, it was shown that cDNAprimer(−) renders the differential detection of viral (−) and (+) RNAs by conventional PCR virtually impossible, due to gross non-specificity. Using in vitro transcribed CVB5 RNAs (+) and (−), it was shown that cDNAprimer(−) could be removed effectively by magnetic physical separation of correctly primed biotinylated cDNA. Such strategy enabled truly strand-specific detection of RNA (−) and (+), not only for CVB5, but also for other non-polio enteroviruses. These findings indicate that previous conclusions supporting a role for the persistence of actively replicating enterovirus in the pathogenesis of chronic myocarditis should be regarded with strong skepticism and purification of correctly primed cDNA should be used for strand-specific PCR of viral RNA in order to obtain reliable information on this important subject.

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