PloS one

Rapid titration of measles and other viruses: optimization with determination of replication cycle length.

PMID 21915289


Measles virus (MV) is a member of the Paramyxoviridae family and an important human pathogen causing strong immunosuppression in affected individuals and a considerable number of deaths worldwide. Currently, measles is a re-emerging disease in developed countries. MV is usually quantified in infectious units as determined by limiting dilution and counting of plaque forming unit either directly (PFU method) or indirectly from random distribution in microwells (TCID50 method). Both methods are time-consuming (up to several days), cumbersome and, in the case of the PFU assay, possibly operator dependent. A rapid, optimized, accurate, and reliable technique for titration of measles virus was developed based on the detection of virus infected cells by flow cytometry, single round of infection and titer calculation according to the Poisson's law. The kinetics follow up of the number of infected cells after infection with serial dilutions of a virus allowed estimation of the duration of the replication cycle, and consequently, the optimal infection time. The assay was set up to quantify measles virus, vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV), and human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) using antibody labeling of viral glycoprotein, virus encoded fluorescent reporter protein and an inducible fluorescent-reporter cell line, respectively. Overall, performing the assay takes only 24-30 hours for MV strains, 12 hours for VSV, and 52 hours for HIV-1. The step-by-step procedure we have set up can be, in principle, applicable to accurately quantify any virus including lentiviral vectors, provided that a virus encoded gene product can be detected by flow cytometry.