Background: There are two influenza A subtypes (H1 and H3) and two influenza B lineages (Victoria and Yamagata) that currently co-circulate in humans. In this study, we report the development of a six-plex droplet digital RT-PCR (ddRT-PCR) assay that can detect HA and M segments of influenza A (H1, H3, and M) and influenza B (Yamagata HA, Victoria HA, and M) viruses in a single reaction mixture. It can simultaneously detect six different nucleic acid targets in a ddRT-PCR platform.
Methods: The six-plex ddRT-PCR used in this study is an amplitude-based multiplex assay. The analytical performance of the assay was evaluated. Correlation with standard qRT-PCR methodology was assessed using 55 clinical samples.
Results: The assay has a wide dynamic range, and it has good reproducibility within and between runs. The limit of quantification of each target in this assay ranged from 15 copies/reaction for influenza B Victoria M gene to 45 copies/reaction for influenza B Yamagata M gene. In addition, this assay can accurately quantify each of these targets in samples containing viral RNAs from two different viruses that were mixed in a highly skewed ratio. Typing, subtyping, and lineage differentiation data of 55 tested clinical respiratory specimens were found to be identical to those deduced from standard monoplex qRT-PCR assays.
Conclusions: The six-plex ddRT-PCR test was demonstrated to be highly suitable for detecting dual influenza infection cases. This assay is expected to be a useful diagnostic tool for clinical and research use.