Receptor-Binding-Motif-Targeted Sanger Sequencing: a Quick and Cost-Effective Strategy for Molecular Surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 Variants. Academic Article uri icon


  • Whole-genome sequencing (WGS) is the gold standard for characterizing the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) genome and identification of new variants. However, the cost involved and time needed for WGS prevent routine, rapid clinical use. This study aimed to develop a quick and cost-effective surveillance strategy for SARS-CoV-2 variants in saliva and nasal swab samples by spike protein receptor-binding-motif (RBM)-targeted Sanger sequencing. Saliva and nasal swabs prescreened for the presence of the nucleocapsid (N) gene of SARS-CoV-2 were subjected to RBM-specific single-amplicon generation and Sanger sequencing. Sequences were aligned by CLC Sequence Viewer 8, and variants were identified based upon specific mutation signature. Based on this strategy, the present study identified Alpha, Beta/Gamma, Delta, and Omicron variants in a quick and cost-effective manner. IMPORTANCE The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic resulted in 427 million infections and 5.9 million deaths globally as of 21 February 2022. SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of the COVID-19 pandemic, frequently mutates and has developed into variants of major public health concerns. Following the Alpha variant (B.1.1.7) infection wave, the Delta variant (B.1.617.2) became prevalent, and now the recently identified Omicron (B.1.1.529) variant is spreading rapidly and forming BA.1, BA.1.1, BA.2, BA.3, BA.4, and BA.5 lineages of concern. Prompt identification of mutational changes in SARS-CoV-2 variants is challenging but critical to managing the disease spread and vaccine/therapeutic modifications. Considering the cost involved and resource limitation of WGS globally, an RBM-targeted Sanger sequencing strategy is adopted in this study for quick molecular surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 variants.

published proceedings

  • Microbiol Spectr

altmetric score

  • 1.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Chaki, S. P., Kahl-McDonagh, M. M., Neuman, B. W., & Zuelke, K. A.

citation count

  • 3

complete list of authors

  • Chaki, Sankar Prasad||Kahl-McDonagh, Melissa M||Neuman, Benjamin W||Zuelke, Kurt A

editor list (cited editors)

  • Narayanasamy, P.

publication date

  • June 2022