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COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 (Coronavirus disease 2019) is caused by the positive stranded SARS-CoV-2 RNA virus in humans and is closely related to the bat-derived severe acute respiratory syndrome-like coronaviruses. Among the human viruses SARS-CoV-2 is most similar to SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV viruses that are responsible for the severe acute respiratory syndrome and middle eastern respiratory syndrome, respectively.



How can the RNAscope technology support COVID-19 research?

The unparalleled sensitivity and specificity of the RNAscope technology allows direct visualization of the virus and estimates the viral load in any tissue and cells with morphological context. This technology eliminates the need for the costly and time-consuming development of specific antibodies for newly identified gene targets or pathogens such as the COVID-19 SARS-CoV-2 virus. Additionally, the RNAscope technology can be combined with immunohistochemistry (IHC) on the same slide for detection of RNA and protein simultaneously. The RNAscope probe can detect the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein mRNA and does not detect other coronaviruses.


  • Visualize the SARS-Cov-2 viral RNA using the V-nCoV2019-S probe and detect viral replication with the V-nCoV2019-S sense probe.
  • Identify potentially vulnerable cell types by visualizing cellular receptor ACE2 and proteases such as TMPRESS , Cathepsin B and L  which facilitate viral entry into the host cells.
  • Identify cellular sources of secreted cytokines such as IL-1β, IL-6, IL-8, TNFα and IL-10 among others which can induce acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) in severe COVID-19 patients.
  • Using the RNAscope or BaseScope assays, any host or viral target gene can be identified to enhance our understanding of SARS-CoV-2 pathogenesis and assist in the development of vaccines and therapies.

RNAscope Catalog Probes Targeting COVID-19 Coronavirus: 

(Listed below are probes for manual RNAscope assay. Corresponding probes for automated assays are also available. )

Target species & region

Cat. No & Probe Description

Specfic for SARS-CoV-2,
S gene encoding the spike protein

848561 RNAscope® Probe - V-nCoV2019-S

Specfic for SARS-CoV-2,
Antisense strand of the S gene

845701 RNAscope® Probe - V-nCoV2019-S-sense
(Note: Cannot be duplexed with the V-nCoV2019-S probe)

Specfic for SARS-CoV-2,
Antisense strand of the orf1ab gene

859151 RNAscope® Probe- V-nCoV2019-orf1ab-sense
(Note: Can be duplexed with the V-nCoV2019-S probe)

Cellular receptor for SARS-CoV-2

848151 RNAscope® Probe - Hs-ACE2

Cellular serine protease and primes the spike protein (S) for cellular entry

470341 RNAscope® Probe - Hs-TMPRSS2

To target other COVID-19 coronavirus strains or regions, ACD can design and manufacture MADE-TO-ORDER Probes  in just 2 weeks. 

Download COVID-19 Flyer

COVID-19 research using the RNAscope technology

  • Researchers from Jay K. Kolls, MD's lab at the Center for Translational Research in Infection and Inflammation, Tulane School of Medicine have extensively used RNAscope for SARS-CoV-2 infection - note the following publications:

    • SARS-CoV-2 Infects Endothelial Cells In Vivo and In Vitro. Liu F, Han K, Blair R, Kenst K, Qin Z, Upcin B, Wörsdörfer P, Midkiff CC, Mudd J, Belyaeva E, Milligan NS, Rorison TD, Wagner N, Bodem J, Dölken L, Aktas BH, Vander Heide RS, Yin XM, Kolls JK, Roy CJ, Rappaport J, Ergün S, Qin X. Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2021 Jul 6;11:701278. 
    • Lung Expression of Human Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 Sensitizes the Mouse to SARS-CoV-2 Infection. Han K, Blair RV, Iwanaga N, Liu F, Russell-Lodrigue KE, Qin Z, Midkiff CC, Golden NA, Doyle-Meyers LA, Kabir ME, Chandler KE, Cutrera KL, Ren M, Monjure CJ, Lehmicke G, Fischer T, Beddingfield B, Wanek AG, Birnbaum A, Maness NJ, Roy CJ, Datta PK, Rappaport J, Kolls JK, Qin X. Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2021 Jan;64(1):79-88.
    • Novel ACE2-IgG1 fusions with improved in vitro and in vivo activity against SARS-CoV2. Iwanaga N, Cooper L, Rong L, Beddingfield B, Crabtree J, Tripp RA, Qin X, Kolls JK. bioRxiv. 2020 Jul 24:2020.06.15.152157.
  • Arkana Labs utilized RNAscope to demonstrate that a COVID-19 positive patient with collapsing glomerulopathy did not show presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the kidney biopsy. They relied on RNAscope for viral detection because of non-specific detection observed using IHC.
    Larsen et al., Collapsing Glomerulopathy in a Patient With Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Kid Inter Rep, 2020, doi: 10.1016/j.ekir.2020.04.002

  • Researchers from Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences have developed a model to study the SARS-CoV-2 pathogenesis to aid in the advancement of viral vaccine and drug development. They observed differences in susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 between the 3 NHP species with the M.mulatta species being more susceptible compared to M. fascicularis and C.jacchus. Using RNAscope Multiplex Fluorescent V2 Assay, the virus could be visualized and localized in different parts of the lung tissue with the RNAscope Probe- V-nCoV2019-S.

  • Researchers at U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) utilized RNAscope 2.5 HD Red Assay to detect SARS-CoV-2 in non-human primate FFPE cell pellets. Using SARS-CoV-2 positive and negative strand specific RNAscope probes, researchers were able simultaneously visualize the virus and viral replication by RNAscope Multiplex Fluorescent V2 assay.

    The information contained in this statement does not necessarily reflect the position or the policy of the Government and no official endorsement should be inferred

Related Publications

Recent publications using the RNAscope assays for the detection of SARS-CoV and MERS-Cov viruses

  1. Corbett, K. S.,  et al., (2020). Evaluation of the mRNA-1273 Vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 in Nonhuman Primates. New England Journal of Medicine.
  2. Chandrashekar, A., et al., (2020). SARS-CoV-2 infection protects against rechallenge in rhesus macaques. Science.
  3. Shiers, S., Ray, P., Wangzhou, A., Tatsui, C. E., Rhines, L., Li, Y., ... & Price, T. J. (2020). ACE2 expression in human dorsal root ganglion sensory neurons: implications for SARS-CoV-2 virus-induced neurological effects. BioRxiv.
  4. Nuovo, G. J., Magro, C., & Mikhail, A. (2020). Cytologic and molecular correlates of SARS-CoV-2 infection of the nasopharynx. Annals of Diagnostic Pathology, 151565.
  5. Haagmans, B.L. et al., Asymptomatic Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus infection in rabbits. J Virol, 2015. 89(11): p. 6131-5.
  6. Haagmans, B.L. et al., An orthopoxvirus-based vaccine reduces virus excretion after MERS-CoV infection in dromedary camels. Science, 2016. 351(6268): p. 77-81.
  7. Cha, R.H.Y., et al., A Case Report of a Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Survivor with Kidney Biopsy Results. J Korean Med Sci, 2016. 31(4): p. 635-40.
  8. Vergara-Alert, J.v.d.B., et al., Livestock Susceptibility to Infection with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus. Emerg Infect Dis, 2017. 23(2).




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