Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, 11304-89 Ave., University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada T6G 2N8.
The goal of this study was to develop a quantitative detection system for severe acute respiratory syndrome-associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV), targeting the nucleocapsid protein (NP), to determine the presence and degree of infection in suspected individuals. Because the NP is the viral protein shed during infection and its template mRNA is the most abundant subgenomic RNA, it is a suitable candidate for developing antibodies for diagnostic applications. In this study, we have prepared full-length SARS-CoV NP expressed in Escherichia coli and purified. Full-length NP was used for the preparation of mouse monoclonal antibody and chicken polyclonal IgY antibodies for the development of heterosandwich ELISA for early diagnostics of SARS-suspected individuals. The sensitivity of the developed heterosandwich ELISA can detect the viral antigen at 18.5 pg/mL of recombinant NP. This study describes ultrasensitive ELISA using 19B6 monoclonal antibody as the capture antibody and IgY as the detecting antibody against the most abundant SARS-CoV NP antigens. One of the most important findings was the use of inexpensive polyclonal IgY antibody to increase the sensitivity of the detection system for SARS-CoV at the picogram level. Furthermore, the immunoassay of SARS-CoV NP antigen developed could be an effective and sensitive method of diagnosing SARS-suspected individuals during a future SARS-CoV outbreak.