PLoS One

. 2023 Mar 23;18(3):e0283074.
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0283074. eCollection 2023.
A highly efficient and accurate method of detecting and subtyping Influenza A pdm H1N1 and H3N2 viruses with newly emerging mutations in the matrix gene in Eastern Taiwan

Hui-Hua Yang 1 2 3 , I-Tsong Huang 3 4 , Ren-Chieh Wu 5 6 7 , Li-Kuang Chen 3 4 5 6 7 8

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The rapid identification of Influenza A virus and its variants, which cause severe respiratory diseases, is imperative to providing timely treatment and improving patient outcomes. Conventionally, two separate assays (total test duration of up to 6 h) are required to initially differentiate Influenza A and B viruses and subsequently distinguish the pdm H1N1 and H3N2 serotypes of Influenza A virus. In this study, we developed a multiplex real-time RT-PCR method for simultaneously detecting Influenza A and B viruses and subtyping Influenza A virus, with a substantially reduced test duration. Clinical specimens from hospitalized patients and outpatients with influenza-like symptoms in Eastern Taiwan were collected between 2011 and 2015, transported to Hualien Tzu Chi Hospital, and analyzed. Conventional RT-PCR was used to subtype the isolated Influenza A viruses. Thereafter, for rapid identification, the multiplex real-time RT-PCR method was developed and applied to identify the conserved regions that aligned with the available primers and probes. Accordingly, a multiplex RT-PCR assay with three groups of primers and probes (MAF and MAR primers and MA probe; InfAF and InfAR primers and InfA probe; and MBF and MBR primers and MB probe) was established to distinguish these viruses in the same reaction. Thus, with this multiplex RT-PCR assay, Influenza B, Influenza A pdm H1N1, and Influenza A H3N2 viruses were accurately detected and differentiated within only 2.5 h. This multiplex RT-PCR assay showed similar analytical sensitivity to the conventional singleplex assay. Further, the phylogenetic analyses of our samples revealed that the characteristics of these viruses were different from those reported previously using samples collected during 2012-2013. In conclusion, we developed a multiplex real-time RT-PCR method for highly efficient and accurate detection and differentiation of Influenza A and B viruses and subtyping Influenza A virus with a substantially reduced test duration for diagnosis.