Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the cause of human coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), emerged in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. The virus rapidly spread globally, resulting in a public health crisis including almost 5 million cases and 323,256 deaths as of May 21, 2020. Here, we describe the identification and evaluation of commercially available reagents and assays for the molecular detection of SARS-CoV-2 in infected FFPE cell pellets. We identified a suitable rabbit polyclonal anti–SARS-CoV spike protein antibody and a mouse monoclonal anti–SARS-CoV nucleocapsid protein (NP) antibody for cross-detection of the respective SARS-CoV-2 proteins by IHC and immunofluorescence assay (IFA). Next, we established RNAscope in situ hybridization (ISH) to detect SARS-CoV-2 RNA. Furthermore, we established a multiplex FISH (mFISH) to detect positive-sense SARS-CoV-2 RNA and negative-sense SARS-CoV-2 RNA (a replicative intermediate indicating viral replication). Finally, we developed a dual staining assay using IHC and ISH to detect SARS-CoV-2 antigen and RNA in the same FFPE section. It is hoped that these reagents and assays will accelerate COVID-19 pathogenesis studies in humans and in COVID-19 animal models.


Jun Liu, April M. Babka, Brian J. Kearney, Sheli R. Radoshitzky, Jens H. Kuhn, Xiankun Zeng


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