From 18S to 28S rRNA Gene: An Improved Targeted Sarcocystidae PCR Amplification, Species Identification with Long DNA Sequences

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  • 1 Environmental Health Research Centre, Institute for Medical Research (IMR), National Institutes of Health, Ministry of Health Malaysia, Setia Alam, Malaysia;
  • 2 Zoonosis Sector, Disease Control Division, Ministry of Health Malaysia, Putrajaya, Malaysia

Sarcocystosis outbreaks in Tioman and Pangkor islands of Malaysia between 2011 and 2014 have raised the need to improve Sarcocystis species detection from environmental samples. In-house works found that published primers amplifying the 18S rRNA gene of Sarcocystis either could not produce the target from environmental samples or produced Sarcocystis DNA sequence that was insufficient for species identification. Using the primer pair of 18S S5 F (published) and 28S R6 R (new), this study improved the PCR amplification of Sarcocystidae to overcome these two difficulties. The PCR product spanned from the 18S to 28S rRNA genes, providing more information for species identification. The long DNA sequence allowed comparison between the “Ident” and “Query Cover” sorting in GenBank identity matching. This revealed the ambiguity in identity matching caused by different lengths of reference DNA sequences, which is seldom discussed in the literature. Using the disparity index test, a measurement of homogeneity in nucleotide substitution pattern, it is shown that the internal transcribed spacer (ITS)1-5.8S-ITS2 and 28S genes are better than the 18S gene in indicating nucleotide variations, implying better potentials for species identification. The example given by the handful of Sarcocystidae long DNA sequences reported herein calls for the need to report DNA sequence from the 18S to the 28S rRNA genes for species identification, especially among emerging pathogens. DNA sequence reporting should include the hypervariable 5.8S and ITS2 regions where applicable, and not be limited to single gene, per the current general trend.

Author Notes

Address correspondence to Florence C. H. Lee, Environmental Health Research Centre, Institute for Medical Research (IMR), Ministry of Health Malaysia, C6-L2-19, NIH Complex, No.1, Jalan Setia Murni U13/52, Setia Alam, 40170 Shah Alam, Malaysia, E-mail: florencelee@moh.gov.my or Vickneshwaran Muthu, Zoonosis Sector, Disease Control Division, Ministry of Health Malaysia, Level 3, Block E10, Complex E, Putrajaya 62590, Malaysia, E-mail: drmvwaran@moh.gov.my.

Financial support: This work was funded by the Ministry of Health Malaysia (project code NIH/IMR/15-011 and registration number NMRR-15-2005-27199).

Authors’ addresses: Florence C. H. Lee, Environmental Health Research Centre, Institute for Medical Research (IMR), Ministry of Health Malaysia, C6-L2-19, NIH Complex, No.1, Jalan Setia Murni U13/52, Setia Alam, 40170 Shah Alam, Malaysia, E-mail: florencelee@moh.gov.my. Vickneshwaran Muthu, Zoonosis Sector, Disease Control Division, Ministry of Health Malaysia, Putrajaya, Malaysia, E-mail: drmvwaran@moh.gov.my.

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