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High-resolution melting PCR assay, applicable for diagnostics and screening studies, allowing detection and differentiation of several Babesia spp. infecting humans and animals

Rozej-Bielicka, Wioletta, Masny, Aleksander, Golab, Elzbieta
Parasitology research 2017 v.116 no.10 pp. 2671-2681
Babesia, DNA, Plasmodium falciparum, Protozoa, Toxoplasma gondii, cross reaction, deer, diagnostic techniques, dogs, genes, hosts, humans, malaria, melting, nucleotide sequences, polymerase chain reaction, ribosomal RNA, rodents, screening, species identification, ticks
The goal of the study was to design a single tube PCR test for detection and differentiation of Babesia species in DNA samples obtained from diverse biological materials. A multiplex, single tube PCR test was designed for amplification of approximately 400 bp region of the Babesia 18S rRNA gene. Universal primers were designed to match DNA of multiple Babesia spp. and to have low levels of similarity to DNA sequences of other intracellular protozoa and Babesia hosts. The PCR products amplified from Babesia DNA isolated from human, dog, rodent, deer, and tick samples were subjected to high-resolution melting analysis for Babesia species identification. The designed test allowed detection and differentiation of four Babesia species, three zoonotic (B. microti, B. divergens, B. venatorum) and one that is generally not considered zoonotic—Babesia canis. Both detection and identification of all four species were possible based on the HRM curves of the PCR products in samples obtained from the following: humans, dogs, rodents, and ticks. No cross-reactivity with DNA of Babesia hosts or Plasmodium falciparum and Toxoplasma gondii was observed. The lack of cross-reactivity with P. falciparum DNA might allow using the assay in endemic malaria areas. The designed assay is the first PCR-based test for detection and differentiation of several Babesia spp. of medical and veterinary importance, in a single tube reaction. The results of the study show that the designed assay for Babesia detection and identification could be a practical and inexpensive tool for diagnostics and screening studies of diverse biological materials.