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Specific primers for PCR amplification of the ITS1 (ribosomal DNA) of Trypanosoma lewisi

Desquesnes M., Kamyingkird K., Yangtara S., Milocco C., Ravel S., Ming-Hui W., Zhao-Rong L., Morand S., Jittapalapong S.. 2011. Infection, Genetics and Evolution, 11 (6) : p. 1361-1367.

DOI: 10.1016/j.meegid.2011.04.030

Trypanosoma lewisi is a mild or non-pathogenic parasite of the sub-genus Herpetosoma transmitted by fleas to rats. In a previous study we described pan-trypanosome specific primers TRYP1 which amplify the ITS1 of ribosomal DNA by hybridizing in highly conserved regions of 18S and 5.8S genes. These primers proved to be useful for detecting T. lewisi DNA in laboratory rats, but a recent large scale survey in wild rodents demonstrated a lack of specificity. In the present study, we designed and evaluated mono-specific primers LEW1S and LEW1R, for the detection and identification of T. lewisi by a single-step PCR. These primers were designed inside the highly variable region of the ITS1 sequence of T. lewisi ribosomal DNA. The product size of 220 bp is specific to T. lewisi. The sensitivity limit was estimated between 0.055 and 0.55 pg of DNA per reaction, equivalent to 1-10 organisms per reaction. All the PCR products obtained from 6 different T. lewisi isolates were more than 98% similar with each other and similar to the sequences of T. lewisi already published in Genbank. All DNA of 7 T. lewisi stocks from China gave the specific 220 bp product. We showed that LEW1S and LEW1R primers enabled sensitive detection and identification of T. lewisi infection in laboratory and wild rats. This assay is recommended for monitoring T. lewisi infections in rat colonies or for studying infections in the wild fauna. An absence of cross reaction with human DNA means that these primers can be used to investigate atypical trypanosome infections in humans. Given the risk of T. lewisi infection in human, we believe that these primers will be beneficial for public health diagnosis and rodents investigation programmes.

Mots-clés : trypanosoma lewisi; rat; adn; ribosome; séquence nucléotidique; identification; marqueur génétique; pcr; chine; thaïlande

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