Cloning of Repetitive DNA Sequences from Toxoplasma Gondii and their Usefulness for Parasite Detection

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  • Laboratorio de Toxoplasmosis, Centro de Investigaciones Medicas Albert Einstein (CIMAE), Buenos Aires, Argentina

Genomic DNA of Toxoplasma gondii was digested with the restriction endonuclease Hpa II and the resulting repetitive DNA sequences were visualized after electrophoresis on agarose gels and staining with ethidium bromide. Three repetitive DNA sequences were isolated and cloned in the plasmid pUC19. The recombinant plasmids (pTg8, pTg4 and pTg1) had inserts of 840, 440, and 180 basepairs, respectively. The estimated copy number of these cloned sequences in the T. gondii genome was approximately 800–1,000 for pTg4, 150–200 for pTg8, and 30–40 for pTg1. In dot-blot hybridization tests, pTg4 was able to detect as little as 80 pg of purified T. gondii DNA or 1,000 parasites in the presence or absence of 1.5 × 106 human or mouse leukocytes. No cross-hybridization was detected with 10 µg of either human and mouse DNA or 100 ng of DNA from other parasites (Eimeria tenella, E. acervularia, Trypanosoma cruzi, and Leishmania donovani), or among the three DNA probes. Each probe identified T. gondii tachyzoites in tissue (liver and spleen) obtained from experimentally infected mice in which histologic damage was detected. In addition, early detection of T. gondii in brain tissue and blood samples was possible with the pTg4 probe.