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Concept: Polymerase chain reaction


Idiopathic chronic diarrhea (ICD) is a leading cause of morbidity amongst rhesus monkeys kept in captivity. Here, we show that exposure of affected animals to the whipworm Trichuris trichiura led to clinical improvement in fecal consistency, accompanied by weight gain, in four out of the five treated monkeys. By flow cytometry analysis of pinch biopsies collected during colonoscopies before and after treatment, we found an induction of a mucosal T(H)2 response following helminth treatment that was associated with a decrease in activated CD4(+) Ki67+ cells. In parallel, expression profiling with oligonucleotide microarrays and real-time PCR analysis revealed reductions in T(H)1-type inflammatory gene expression and increased expression of genes associated with IgE signaling, mast cell activation, eosinophil recruitment, alternative activation of macrophages, and worm expulsion. By quantifying bacterial 16S rRNA in pinch biopsies using real-time PCR analysis, we found reduced bacterial attachment to the intestinal mucosa post-treatment. Finally, deep sequencing of bacterial 16S rRNA revealed changes to the composition of microbial communities attached to the intestinal mucosa following helminth treatment. Thus, the genus Streptophyta of the phylum Cyanobacteria was vastly increased in abundance in three out of five ICD monkeys relative to healthy controls, but was reduced to control levels post-treatment; by contrast, the phylum Tenericutes was expanded post-treatment. These findings suggest that helminth treatment in primates can ameliorate colitis by restoring mucosal barrier functions and reducing overall bacterial attachment, and also by altering the communities of attached bacteria. These results also define ICD in monkeys as a tractable preclinical model for ulcerative colitis in which these effects can be further investigated.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Gene expression, Bacteria, Polymerase chain reaction, Ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, DNA microarray


High-throughput recording of signals embedded within inaccessible micro-environments is a technological challenge. The ideal recording device would be a nanoscale machine capable of quantitatively transducing a wide range of variables into a molecular recording medium suitable for long-term storage and facile readout in the form of digital data. We have recently proposed such a device, in which cation concentrations modulate the misincorporation rate of a DNA polymerase (DNAP) on a known template, allowing DNA sequences to encode information about the local cation concentration. In this work we quantify the cation sensitivity of DNAP misincorporation rates, making possible the indirect readout of cation concentration by DNA sequencing. Using multiplexed deep sequencing, we quantify the misincorporation properties of two DNA polymerases - Dpo4 and Klenow exo(-) - obtaining the probability and base selectivity of misincorporation at all positions within the template. We find that Dpo4 acts as a DNA recording device for Mn(2+) with a misincorporation rate gain of ∼2%/mM. This modulation of misincorporation rate is selective to the template base: the probability of misincorporation on template T by Dpo4 increases >50-fold over the range tested, while the other template bases are affected less strongly. Furthermore, cation concentrations act as scaling factors for misincorporation: on a given template base, Mn(2+) and Mg(2+) change the overall misincorporation rate but do not alter the relative frequencies of incoming misincorporated nucleotides. Characterization of the ion dependence of DNAP misincorporation serves as the first step towards repurposing it as a molecular recording device.

Concepts: DNA, Polymerase chain reaction, Chemistry, DNA replication, DNA polymerase, DNA polymerase I, Polymerase, DNA polymerase III holoenzyme


Background. Current malaria diagnostics, including microscopy and antigen-detecting rapid tests, cannot reliably detect low-density infections. Molecular methods such as PCR are highly sensitive, but remain too complex for field deployment. A new commercial molecular assay based on loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) was assessed for field use.Methods. Malaria LAMP (Eiken Chemical Co., Ltd., Japan) was evaluated in 272 outpatients at a rural Ugandan clinic, and compared with expert microscopy, nested PCR (nPCR) and quantitative PCR (qPCR). Two technicians performed the assay after three days of training, using two alternative blood sample preparation methods and visual interpretation of results by fluorescence.Results. Compared with three-well nPCR, the sensitivity of both LAMP and single-well nPCR was 90%; microscopy sensitivity was 51%. For samples with P. falciparum qPCR titer≥2 parasites/µL, LAMP sensitivity was 97.8% (95% CI 93.7%-99.5%). Most false-negative LAMP results occurred in samples with parasitemia detectable by three-well nPCR but very low or undetectable by qPCR.Conclusions. Malaria LAMP in a remote Ugandan clinic achieved sensitivity similar to single-well nPCR in a UK reference laboratory. LAMP dramatically lowers the detection threshold achievable in endemic settings, providing a new tool for diagnosis, surveillance, and screening in elimination strategies.

Concepts: Infectious disease, Polymerase chain reaction, Molecular biology, Malaria, Plasmodium falciparum, Type I and type II errors, Real-time polymerase chain reaction, Laboratory techniques


BACKGROUND: A recent study using a rat model found significant differences at the time of diabetes onset in the bacterial communities responsible for type 1 diabetes modulation. We hypothesized that type 1 diabetes in humans could also be linked to a specific gut microbiota. Our aim was to quantify and evaluate the difference in the composition of gut microbiota between children with type 1diabetes and healthy children and to determine the possible relationship of the gut microbiota of children with type 1 diabetes with the glycemic level. METHODS: A case-control study was carried out with 16 children with type 1 diabetes and 16 healthy children. The fecal bacteria composition was investigated by polymerase chain reaction-denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis and real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction. RESULTS: The mean similarity index was 47.39% for the healthy children and 37.56% for the children with diabetes, whereas the intergroup similarity index was 26.69%. In the children with diabetes, the bacterial number of Actinobacteria and Firmicutes, and the Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes ratio were all significantly decreased, with the quantity of Bacteroidetes significantly increased with respect to healthy children. At the genus level, we found a significant increase in the number of Clostridium, Bacteroides and Veillonella and a significant decrease in the number of Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Blautia coccoides/Eubacterium rectale group and Prevotella in the children with diabetes. We also found that the number of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus, and the Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes ratio correlated negatively and significantly with the plasma glucose level while the quantity of Clostridium correlated positively and significantly with the plasma glucose level in the diabetes group. CONCLUSIONS: This is the first study showing that type 1 diabetes is associated with compositional changes in gut microbiota. The significant differences in the number of Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus and Clostridium and in the Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes ratio observed between the two groups could be related to the glycemic level in the group with diabetes. Moreover, the quantity of bacteria essential to maintain gut integrity was significantly lower in the children with diabetes than the healthy children. These findings could be useful for developing strategies to control the development of type 1 diabetes by modifying the gut microbiota.

Concepts: Bacteria, Gut flora, Polymerase chain reaction, Nutrition, Enzyme, Diabetes mellitus, Firmicutes, Bacteroidetes


In this study, the applicability of droplet digital PCR (ddPCR) for routine analysis in food and feed samples was demonstrated with the quantification of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) is currently used for quantitative molecular analysis of the presence of GMOs in products. However, its use is limited for detecting and quantifying very small numbers of DNA targets, as in some complex food and feed matrices. Using ddPCR duplex assay, we have measured the absolute numbers of MON810 transgene and hmg maize reference gene copies in DNA samples. Key performance parameters of the assay were determined. The ddPCR system is shown to offer precise absolute and relative quantification of targets, without the need for calibration curves. The sensitivity (five target DNA copies) of the ddPCR assay compares well with those of individual qPCR assays and of the chamber digital PCR (cdPCR) approach. It offers a dynamic range over four orders of magnitude, greater than that of cdPCR. Moreover, when compared to qPCR, the ddPCR assay showed better repeatability at low target concentrations and a greater tolerance to inhibitors. Finally, ddPCR throughput and cost are advantageous relative to those of qPCR for routine GMO quantification. It is thus concluded that ddPCR technology can be applied for routine quantification of GMOs, or any other domain where quantitative analysis of food and feed samples is needed.

Concepts: DNA, Gene expression, Polymerase chain reaction, Molecular biology, DNA replication, DNA polymerase, Genetically modified organism, Genetically modified food


BACKGROUND: The use of natalizumab in multiple sclerosis (MS) may favour JC virus reactivation; this phenomenon is usually asymptomatic but can, albeit rarely, evolve into frank progressive multifocal leucoencephalopathy (PML). METHODS: JCV-specific CD8+ T lymphocytes were evaluated by flow cytometry over a 24-month period in 24 natalizumab-treated MS patients in whom JCV DNA was or was not detected in blood using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction; all these cases were asymptomatic. RESULTS: Perforin- and grazymes-containing VP-1-specific CD8+ T lymphocytes were reduced whereas CD107a-expressing cells were increased in JCV positive patients, suggesting an active degranulation of these cells; naive CD8+ T lymphocytes were also decreased whereas memory cells were increased in patients in whom JCV reactivation was observed. CONCLUSION: The presence of a CD8+ T lymphocyte-mediated effector immune response offers a greater insight into reactivation of JCV and its clinical sequelae, and may help the monitoring of patients on natalizumab therapy.

Concepts: Immune system, Antibody, DNA, Polymerase chain reaction, Natural killer cell, Multiple sclerosis, Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, JC virus


Abstract. Visceral leishmaniasis was first reported in Bhutan in 2006. We conducted studies of the parasite, possible vectors and reservoirs, and leishmanin skin test and risk factor surveys in three villages. Nineteen cases were reported from seven districts. Parasite typing yielded two novel microsatellite sequences, both related to Indian L. donovani. In one case village, 40 (18.5%) of 216 participants had positive leishmanin skin test results, compared with 3 (4.2%) of 72 in the other case village and 0 of 108 in the control village. Positive results were strongly associated with the village and increasing age. None of the tested dogs were infected. Eighteen sand flies were collected, 13 Phlebotomus species and 5 Sergentomyia species; polymerase chain reaction for leishmanial DNA was negative. This assessment suggests that endemic visceral leishmaniasis transmission has occurred in diverse locations in Bhutan. Surveillance, case investigations, and further parasite, vector, and reservoir studies are needed. The potential protective impact of bed nets should be evaluated.

Concepts: DNA, Polymerase chain reaction, DNA polymerase, Leishmaniasis, Leishmania, Thermus aquaticus, Phlebotominae, Canine leishmaniasis


The tick-borne apicomplexan bovine parasite Theileria annulata is endemic in many tropical and temperate areas, including Minorca (Balearic Islands, Spain). Real-time PCR is widely used for the detection of piroplasms but quantification is not commonly considered.

Concepts: Polymerase chain reaction, Mediterranean Sea, Theileria, Balearic Islands, Catalan language


BACKGROUND: Toxocarosis is a zoonotic disease caused by Toxocara canis (T. canis) and/or Toxocara cati (T. cati), two worldwide distributed roundworms which are parasites of canids and felids, respectively. Infections of humans occur through ingestion of embryonated eggs of T. canis or T. cati, when playing with soils contaminated with dogs or cats feces. Accordingly, the assessment of potential contamination of these areas with these roundworms eggs is paramount. METHODS: A duplex quantitative real-time PCR (2qPCR) targeting the ribosomal RNA gene internal transcribed spacer (ITS2) has been developed and used for rapid and specific identification of T. canis and T. cati eggs in fecal and soil samples. The assay was set up on DNA samples extracted from 53 adult worms including T. canis, T. cati, T. leonina, Ascaris suum (A. suum) and Parascaris equorum (P. equorum). The assay was used to assess the presence of T. cati eggs in several samples, including 12 clean soil samples spiked with eggs of either T. cati or A. suum, 10 actual soil samples randomly collected from playgrounds in Brussels, and fecal samples from cats, dogs, and other animals. 2qPCR results on dogs and cats fecal samples were compared with results from microscopic examination. RESULTS: 2qPCR assay allowed specific detection of T. canis and T. cati, whether adult worms, eggs spiked in soil or fecal samples. The 2qPCR limit of detection (LOD) in spiked soil samples was 2 eggs per g of soil for a turnaround time of 3 hours. A perfect concordance was observed between 2qPCR assay and microscopic examination on dogs and cats feces. CONCLUSION: The newly developed 2qPCR assay can be useful for high throughput prospective or retrospective detection of T.canis and/or T. cati eggs in fecal samples as well as in soil samples from playgrounds, parks and sandpits.

Concepts: DNA, Polymerase chain reaction, RNA, Ribosomal RNA, Nematodes, Dog, Toxocaridae, Toxocariasis


BACKGROUND: Six species of the genus Entamoeba, i.e., E. histolytica, E. dispar, E. moshkovskii, E. polecki, E. coli, and E. hartmanii can be found in human stools. Among these, only E. histolytica is considered to be pathogenic, causing intestinal and extra-intestinal disease, but it is morphologically identical to E. dispar and E. moshkovskii. In general, E. polecki, E. coli, and E. hartmanii can be differentiated morphologically from E. histolytica, but some of their diagnostic morphologic features may overlap creating issues for the differential diagnosis. Moreover, the previous inability to differentiate among Entamoeba species has limited epidemiologic information on E histolytica. The objective of this study was to develop a rapid, high-throughput screening method using Luminex technique for the simultaneous detection and differentiation of Entamoeba species. METHODS: PCR amplification was performed with biotinylated Entamoeba sp 18S rRNA gene primers, designed to amplify a fragment ranging from 382 to 429 bp of the Entamoeba spp studied. Regions of this fragment that could differentiate among E. histolytica, E. moshkovskii, E. dispar, E. hartmanii and E. coli were selected to design hybridization probes to link to Luminex beads. The assay was standardized with cloned DNA samples of each species and evaluated with 24 DNA extracts from samples obtained from individuals diagnosed with these amebas in their stools. RESULTS: Using this approach we were able to correctly identify E. histoltyica, E. dispar, E hartmanni, E. coli and E. moshkovskii in all specimens studied. From twenty four samples tested by microscopy, PCR/DNA Sequencing and real-time PCR, 100% agreed with PCR-Luminex assay for identification of E. dispar, E. moshkovskii, E. hartmanni, E. histolytica, and E. coli. CONCLUSION: These results show that this method could be used in the diagnostic detection of Entamoeba spp in fecal samples. This diagnostic test was useful to clearly distinguish E histolytica from other species and also to strengthen epidemiologic data on Entamoeba spp.

Concepts: DNA, Polymerase chain reaction, Molecular biology, Biology, Ribosomal RNA, Entamoeba histolytica, Entamoeba, Entamoeba coli