The Zika virus was introduced in Brazil in 2015 and, shortly after, spread all over the Americas. Nowadays, it remains present in more than 80 countries and represents a major threat due to some singularities among other flaviviruses. Due to its easy transmission, high percentage of silent cases, the severity of its associated complications, and the lack of prophylactic methods and effective treatments, it is essential to develop reliable and rapid diagnostic tests for early containment of the infection. Nonstructural protein 1 (NS1), a glycoprotein involved in all flavivirus infections, is secreted since the beginning of the infection into the blood stream and has proven to be a valuable biomarker for the early diagnosis of other flaviviral infections. Here, we describe the development of a highly sensitive nanobody ELISA for the detection of the NS1 protein in serum samples. Nanobodies were selected from a library generated from a llama immunized with Zika NS1 (ZVNS1) by a two-step high-throughput screening geared to identify the most sensitive and specific nanobody pairs. The assay was performed with a sub-ng/mL detection limit in the sera and showed excellent reproducibility and accuracy when validated with serum samples spiked with 0.80, 1.60, or 3.10 ng/mL of ZVNS1. Furthermore, the specificity of the developed ELISA was demonstrated using a panel of flavivirus’ NS1 proteins; this is of extreme relevance in countries endemic for more than one flavivirus. Considering that the nanobody sequences are provided, the assay can be reproduced in any laboratory at low cost, which may help to strengthen the diagnostic capacity of the disease even in low-resource countries.

References

PubMed