SARS-CoV Research Related Products

In the investigation of coronaviruses, various molecular and biochemical research tools are available, including antibodies, immunoassays and PCR kits. Coronaviruses are a family of enveloped RNA viruses that infect various mammals as well as birds. Of clinical importance is the betacoronavirus genus, which contains several high-profile zoonotic viral species. Notable betacoronaviruses include SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, OC43, HKU1, and more recently, 2019-nCov.

All members of the Coronaviridae family contain a single-stranded RNA genome of roughly 26 to 32 kilobases. Its encoded polyprotein produces four major proteins, envelope, membrane, nucleocapsid, and spike, a protruding glycoprotein that creates the characteristic crown-like morphology of coronaviruses. Immunological tools for the detection and measurement of coronaviruses, such as antibodies and enzyme immunoassays (EIAs and ELISAs), operate on specific binding to antigens on the viral surface. Host immunoglobulins against the virus can also be used as targets.

PCR-based methods are another option for detection. Applications include reverse transcription PCR (RT-PCR), and real-time (quantitative) qRT-PCR assays. In response to the recent 2019-nCoV outbreak, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has developed a qRT-PCR diagnostic panel intended for clinically-certified laboratories (1). The panel uses primers and probes that target the nucleocapsid (N) gene and is designed for the specific detection of the 2019-nCoV as well as other SARS-like coronaviruses. These methods for detection can serve as tools for both basic and applied research into coronaviruses, such as in virology, immunology, drug development, and vaccine research.

The SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome-related) coronavirus caused the severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak in 2003. The virus has an incubation period of 2-10 days, and can lead to pneumonia and lymphopenia in infected individuals. The SARS coronavirus genome is 29.7 kilobases in length, which encodes 14 known proteins. The human protein angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) is known to be the primary receptor required for viral infection. SARS-CoV ELISA kits can be used in immunodetection studies.

MERS-CoV causes Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), which first emerged in the Arabian peninsula in 2012. The virus is roughly 30 kilobases with as many as 27 predicted open reading frames (2). The receptor for the virus is reported to be dipeptidyl peptidase 4, also known as CD26. Upon infection, the virus has an incubation period of roughly 2-14 days, colonizing the upper and lower respiratory tracts. Viral particles have also been detected in feces, serum, and urine (3). MERS-CoV infection can be investigated using specific antibodies or ELISA kits.

The 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is the causative agent of the ongoing 2019-2020 viral outbreak that originated in Wuhan, China. Sequencing analyses have determined a single-stranded RNA genome size of roughly 29.9 kilobases. Phylogenetic comparisons indicate a close nucleotide sequence identity (up to 96%) to SARS-like coronaviruses isolated from bats. In contrast, 2019-nCoV only moderately resembles SARS-CoV (79%) and MERS-CoV (50%) identity (4,5,6). There are predicted to be at least 12 open reading frames: 1ab, S, 3, E, M, 7, 8, 9, 10b, N, 13, and 14 (5). The disease caused by the virus has recently been named COVID-19, for 'coronavirus disease in 2019" (7).

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  • [1] Information for Laboratories: 2019-NCoV | CDC. 9 Feb. 2020,
  • [2] Cotten, Matthew, et al. Full-Genome Deep Sequencing and Phylogenetic Analysis of Novel Human Betacoronavirus - Volume 19, Number 5—May 2013 - Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal - CDC., doi:10.3201/eid1905.130057.
  • [3] CDC. “MERS Clinical Features.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2 Aug. 2019,
  • [4] Wu, Fan, et al. “A New Coronavirus Associated with Human Respiratory Disease in China.” Nature, Feb. 2020, pp. 1–8., doi:10.1038/s41586-020-2008-3.
  • [5] Lu, Roujian, et al. “Genomic Characterisation and Epidemiology of 2019 Novel Coronavirus: Implications for Virus Origins and Receptor Binding.” The Lancet, Jan. 2020, doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30251-8.
  • [6] Zhou, Peng, et al. “A Pneumonia Outbreak Associated with a New Coronavirus of Probable Bat Origin.” Nature, Feb. 2020. doi:10.1038/s41586-020-2012-7.
  • [7] “Coronavirus Latest: WHO Officially Names Disease COVID-19.” Nature, Feb. 2020., doi:10.1038/d41586-020-00154-w.

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