Longitudinal tracking and quantification of individual Plasmodium falciparum clones in complex infections

Anita Lerch, Cristian Koepfli, Natalie E Hofmann, Johanna Helena Kattenberg, Anna Rosanas-Urgell, Inoni Betuela, Ivo Mueller, Ingrid Felger

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Longitudinal tracking of individual Plasmodium falciparum strains in multi-clonal infections is essential for investigating infection dynamics of malaria. The traditional genotyping techniques did not permit tracking changes in individual clone density during persistent natural infections. Amplicon deep sequencing (Amp-Seq) offers a tool to address this knowledge gap. The sensitivity of Amp-Seq for relative quantification of clones was investigated using three molecular markers, ama1-D2, ama1-D3, and cpmp. Amp-Seq and length-polymorphism based genotyping were compared for their performance in following minority clones in longitudinal samples from Papua New Guinea. Amp-Seq markers were superior to length-polymorphic marker msp2 in detecting minority clones (sensitivity Amp-Seq: 95%, msp2: 85%). Multiplicity of infection (MOI) by Amp-Seq was 2.32 versus 1.73 for msp2. The higher sensitivity had no effect on estimates of force of infection because missed minority clones were detected in preceding or succeeding bleeds. Individual clone densities were tracked longitudinally by Amp-Seq despite MOI > 1, thus providing an additional parameter for investigating malaria infection dynamics. Amp-Seq based genotyping of longitudinal samples improves detection of minority clones and estimates of MOI. Amp-Seq permits tracking of clone density over time to study clone competition or the dynamics of specific, i.e. resistance-associated genotypes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3333
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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