Zhao H, Wang M, Muthelo P, Löf L, Sterky F, Gallini R, Kumar NV, Monsen T, Nilsson K, Åberg M, Kamali-Moghaddam M, Mei YF, Landegren U
N Biotechnol - (-) - [2022-11-21; online 2022-11-21]
A homogeneous PCR-based assay for sensitive and specific detection of antibodies in serum or dried blood spots (DBS) is presented and the method is used to monitor individuals infected with or vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2. Detection probes were prepared by conjugating the recombinant spike protein subunit 1 (S1), containing the receptor binding domain (RBD) of SARS-CoV-2, to each of a pair of specific oligonucleotides. The same was done for the nucleocapsid protein (NP). Upon incubation with serum or DBS samples, the bi- or multivalency of the antibodies (IgG, IgA or IgM) brings pairs of viral proteins with their conjugated oligonucleotides in proximity and can be detected by a modified proximity extension assay (PEA). Anti-S1 and anti-NP antibodies could be detected simultaneously from one incubation reaction. This Antibody PEA (AbPEA) test uses only 1µl of neat or up to 100,000-fold diluted serum or one ø1.2mm disc cut from a DBS. All 100 investigated sera and 21 DBS collected prior to the COVID-19 outbreak were negative, demonstrating a 100% specificity. The area under the curve, as evaluated by the Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) analysis reached 0.998 (95%CI: 0.993-1) for samples taken from 11 days after symptoms onset. The kinetics of antibody responses were monitored after a first and second vaccination using serially collected DBS from 14 individuals. AbPEA offers highly specific and sensitive solution-phase antibody detection without requirement for secondary antibodies, no elution step when using DBS sample and a simple procedure that lends itself to multiplex survey of antibody responses.