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J Virol Methods. 2004 Sep 1;120(1):113-7.

A simplified plaque assay for respiratory syncytial virus--direct visualization of plaques without immunostaining.

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CSIRO Health Sciences and Nutrition, 343 Royal Parade, Parkville 3052, Australia.


Due to their generally small size, detection of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) plaques commonly relies on immunostaining using either polyclonal antisera or a pool of monoclonal antibodies against the surface fusion glycoprotein. Disadvantages include the costs of the antibodies and substrate, and microscopic examination is often needed for counting of plaques. By optimizing many parameters, greatly improved plaque assays for RSV A2, Long and RSV B 18537 strains using Vero or HEp-2 cells have been developed. Although many groups use Vero cells for plaquing, after optimization plaques were much larger in HEp-2 cells. Both cell types needed to be confluent at infection and agarose was more suitable than carboxymethyl cellulose for the overlay. Overlay medium for HEp-2 was DMEM/F12, 0.3% agarose, and for Veros it was Liebovitz L15, 5% fetal calf serum, 0.3-0.5% agarose. After 5-7 days, monolayers were fixed with 1% formal saline overnight, agarose was removed and monolayers were stained with 0.05% neutral red in water. Plaques were readily visible by eye and plates could be dried and stored permanently. Parainfluenza virus type 3 also formed large plaques in HEp-2 cells under the conditions optimal for RSV.

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