New PCR Primer Database Aims To Prevent Diseases From Going Viral

This comprehensive public database of PCR primers for RNA viruses could help the fight against future epidemics.

AsianScientist (Jan. 9, 2017) – In the hopes of preventing the next big viral epidemic, scientists at Korea’s Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology (DGIST) scientists have compiled a comprehensive public database of genetic information to enable the detection and identification of RNA viruses using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay. Their results have been published in Nucleic Acids Research.

RNA viruses cause many infectious diseases including influenza, polio and measles. In recent years, outbreaks caused by RNA viruses such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory disease (MERS) have had severe health and economic impacts. In both outbreaks, the viruses spread rapidly due to slow and unreliable diagnosis, highlighting the need for accurate pathogen detection and identification.

PCR is a technique widely used for rapid and accurate viral identification. The sequence of primers—short strands of DNA that serve as a starting point for DNA synthesis—determines the specificity of the test. However, very few online databases have compiled high-quality PCR primers for RNA viruses, and those that are available have certain limitations that restrict their usefulness.

To address this need, a team led by Professors Kim Min-Soo and Koo JaeHyung have compiled a comprehensive database of PCR primers, to enable the detection and identification of RNA viruses more rapidly and effectively.

The reference resource, the MRPrimerV database, contains 152, 380, 247 PCR primer pairs for the detection of 1,818 viruses, covering 7,144 gene-coding sequences, regions of a gene’s DNA or RNA that codes for a protein.

These in silico primers are capable of detecting 100 percent of the RNA viruses included in the latest U.S National Center for Biotechnology Information Reference Sequence (NCBI RefSeq) database, an open access curated collection of DNA and RNA nucleotide sequences and their protein products. Due to rigorous similarity testing against all human and viral sequences, every primer included in the MRPrimerV database is extremely target-specific.

“We believe that the public availability of MRPrimerV will facilitate viral metagenomics studies aimed at evaluating the variability of viruses, as well as other scientific tasks, facilitating effective responses to potential epidemics,” the DGIST researchers conclude.

The article can be found at: Kim et al. (2016) MRPrimerV: A Database of PCR Primers for RNA Virus Detection.


Source: Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology; Photo: Pixabay.
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