Three new sensitive and specific heat-shock protein 70 PCRs for global Leishmania species identification

A.M. Montalvo, J. Fraga, I. Maes, J.C. Dujardin, G. Van der Auwera

Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-articlepeer-review


The heat-shock protein 70 gene (hsp70) has been exploited for Leishmania species identification in the New and Old World, using PCR followed by restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis. Current PCR presents limitations in terms of sensitivity, which hampers its use for analyzing clinical and biological samples, and specificity, which makes it inappropriate to discriminate between Leishmania and other trypanosomatids. The aim of the study was to improve the sensitivity and specificity of a previously reported hsp70 PCR using alternative PCR primers and RFLPs. Following in silico analysis of available sequences, three new PCR primer sets and restriction digest schemes were tested on a globally representative panel of 114 Leishmania strains, various other infectious agents, and clinical samples. The largest new PCR fragment retained the discriminatory power from RFLP, while two smaller fragments discriminated less species. The detection limit of the new PCRs was between 0.05 and 0.5 parasite genomes, they amplified clinical samples more efficiently, and were Leishmania specific. We succeeded in significantly improving the specificity and sensitivity of the PCRs for hsp70 Leishmania species typing. The improved PCR-RFLP assays can impact diagnosis, treatment, and epidemiological studies of leishmaniasis in any setting worldwide.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)1453-1461
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Protozoal diseases
  • Leishmaniasis
  • Leishmania donovani
  • Vectors
  • Sandflies
  • Phlebotomus argentipes
  • Identification
  • Heat-shock proteins
  • Polymerase chain reaction
  • PCR
  • Primers
  • Sensitivity
  • Specificity
  • Performance
  • RFLP
  • Species
  • Laboratory techniques and procedures


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