Distinguishing Body Lice from Head Lice by Multiplex Real-Time PCR Analysis of the Phum_PHUM540560 Gene

Drali, Rezak; Boutellis, Amina; Raoult, Didier; Rolain, Jean Marc; Brouqui, Philippe
February 2013
PLoS ONE;Feb2013, Vol. 8 Issue 2, p1
Academic Journal
Background: Body louse or head louse? Once removed from their environment, body and head lice are indistinguishable. Neither the morphological criteria used since the mid-18th century nor the various genetic studies conducted since the advent of molecular biology tools have allowed body lice and head lice to be differentiated. In this work, using a portion of the Phum_PHUM540560 gene from the body louse, we aimed to develop a multiplex real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay to differentiate between body and head lice in a single reaction. Materials and Methods: A total of 142 human lice were collected from mono-infested hosts from 13 countries on five continents. We first identified the louse clade using a cytochrome b (CYTB) PCR sequence alignment. We then aligned a fragment of the Phum_PHUM540560 gene amplified from head and body lice to design-specific TaqMan© FAM- and VIC-labeled probes. Results: All the analyzed lice were Clade A lice. A total of 22 polymorphisms between the body and head lice were characterized. The multiplex real-time PCR analysis enabled the body and head lice to be distinguished in two hours. This method is simple, with 100% specificity and sensitivity. Conclusions: We confirmed that the Phum_PHUM540560 gene is a useful genetic marker for the study of lice.


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