Selective counting and sizing of single virus particles using fluorescent aptamer-based nanoparticle tracking analysis†
Detection and counting of single virus particles in liquid samples are largely limited to narrow size distribution of viruses and purified formulations. To address these limitations, here we propose a calibration-free method that enables concurrently the selective recognition, counting and sizing of virus particles as demonstrated through the detection of human respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), an enveloped virus with a broad size distribution, in throat swab samples. RSV viruses were selectively labeled through their attachment glycoproteins (G) with fluorescent aptamers, which further enabled their identification, sizing and counting at the single particle level by fluorescent nanoparticle tracking analysis. The proposed approach seems to be generally applicable to virus detection and quantification. Moreover, it could be successfully applied to detect single RSV particles in swab samples of diagnostic relevance. Since the selective recognition is associated with the sizing of each detected particle, this method enables to discriminate viral elements linked to the virus as well as various virus forms and associations.