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Title: A field-deployable diagnostic assay for the visual detection of misfolded prions
Abstract Diagnostic tools for the detection of protein-misfolding diseases (i.e., proteopathies) are limited. Gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) facilitate sensitive diagnostic techniques via visual color change for the identification of a variety of targets. In parallel, recently developed quaking-induced conversion (QuIC) assays leverage protein-amplification and fluorescent signaling for the accurate detection of misfolded proteins. Here, we combine AuNP and QuIC technologies for the visual detection of amplified misfolded prion proteins from tissues of wild white-tailed deer infected with chronic wasting disease (CWD), a prion disease of cervids. Our newly developed assay, MN-QuIC, enables both naked-eye and light-absorbance measurements for detection of misfolded prions. MN-QuIC leverages basic laboratory equipment that is cost-effective and portable, thus facilitating real-time prion diagnostics across a variety of settings. In addition to laboratory-based tests, we deployed to a rural field-station in southeastern Minnesota and tested for CWD on site. We successfully demonstrated that MN-QuIC is functional in a non-traditional laboratory setting by performing a blinded analysis in the field and correctly identifying all CWD positive and CWD not-detected deer at the field site in 24 h, thus documenting the portability of the assay. White-tailed deer tissues used to validate MN-QuIC included medial retropharyngeal lymph nodes, parotid lymph nodes, and palatine tonsils. Importantly, all of the white-tailed deer (n = 63) were independently tested using ELISA, IHC, and/or RT-QuIC technologies and results secured with MN-QuIC were 95.7% and 100% consistent with these tests for positive and non-detected animals, respectively. We hypothesize that electrostatic forces help govern the AuNP/prion interactions and conclude that MN-QuIC has great potential for sensitive, field-deployable diagnostics for CWD, with future potential diagnostic applications for a variety of proteopathies.  more » « less
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Scientific Reports
Medium: X
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National Science Foundation
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