SOLiDâ„¢ Sequencing of Genomes of Clinical Isolates of Leishmania donovani from India Confirm Leptomonas Co-Infection and Raise Some Key Questions

Singh, Neeloo; Chikara, Surendra; Sundar, Shyam
February 2013
PLoS ONE;Feb2013, Vol. 8 Issue 2, p1
Academic Journal
Background: Known as ‘neglected disease’ because relatively little effort has been applied to finding cures, leishmaniasis kills more than 150,000 people every year and debilitates millions more. Visceral leishmaniasis (VL), also called Kala Azar (KA) or black fever in India, claims around 20,000 lives every year. Whole genome analysis presents an excellent means to identify new targets for drugs, vaccine and diagnostics development, and also provide an avenue into the biological basis of parasite virulence in the L. donovani complex prevalent in India. Methodology/Principal Findings: In our presently described study, the next generation SOLiD™ platform was successfully utilized for the first time to carry out whole genome sequencing of L. donovani clinical isolates from India. We report the exceptional occurrence of insect trypanosomatids in clinical cases of visceral leishmaniasis (Kala Azar) patients in India. We confirm with whole genome sequencing analysis data that isolates which were sequenced from Kala Azar (visceral leishmaniasis) cases were genetically related to Leptomonas. The co-infection in splenic aspirate of these patients with a species of Leptomonas and how likely is it that the infection might be pathogenic, are key questions which need to be investigated. We discuss our results in the context of some important probable hypothesis in this article. Conclusions/Significance: Our intriguing results of unusual cases of Kala Azar found to be most similar to Leptomonas species put forth important clinical implications for the treatment of Kala Azar in India. Leptomonas have been shown to be highly susceptible to several standard leishmaniacides in vitro. There is very little divergence among these two species viz. Leishmania sp. and L. seymouri, in terms of genomic sequence and organization. A more extensive perception of the phenomenon of co-infection needs to be addressed from molecular pathogenesis and eco-epidemiological standpoint.


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