Since its emergence in Wuhan (China) on December 2019 the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has rapidly spread worldwide. After its arrival in South America in February 2020 the virus has expanded throughout the region infecting over 900,000 individuals with approximately 41,000 reported deaths to date. In response to the rapidly growing number of cases, a number of different primer-probe sets have been developed. However, despite being highly specific most of these primer-probe sets are known to exhibit variable sensitivity. Currently, there are more than 700 SARS-CoV2 whole genome sequences deposited in databases from Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Colombia, Uruguay, Peru and Argentina. To test how regional viral diversity may impact oligo binding sites and affect test performance, we reviewed all available primer-probe sets targeting the E, N and RdRp genes against available South American SARS-CoV-2 genomes checking for nucleotide variations in annealing sites. Results from this in silico analysis showed no nucleotide variations on the E-gene target region, in contrast to the N and RdRp genes which showed massive nucleotide variations within oligo binding sites. In lines with previous data, our results suggest that E-gene stands as the most conserved and reliable target when considering single-gene target testing for molecular diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 in South America.
Collection : COVID-19 SARS-CoV-2 preprints from medRxiv and bioRxiv