Detection of single-nucleotide polymorphisms in Plasmodium falciparum by PCR primer extension and lateral flow immunoassay
Moers APHA., Hallett RL., Burrow R., Schallig HDFH., Sutherl CJ., Van Amerongena A.
© 2015 American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved. The resistance of Plasmodium falciparum to some antimalarial drugs is linked to single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Currently, there are no methods for the identification of resistant parasites that are sufficiently simple, cheap, and fast enough to be performed at point-of-care, i.e., in local hospitals where drugs are prescribed. Primer extension methods (PEXT) were developed to identify 4 SNPs in P. falciparum positioned at amino acids 86, 184, and 1246 of the P. falciparum multidrug resistance 1 gene (pfmdr1) and amino acid 76 of the chloroquine resistance transporter gene (pfcrt). The PEXT products were visualized by a nucleic acid lateral flow immunoassay (NALFIA) with carbon nanoparticles as the detection labels. PCR-PEXT-NALFIAs showed good correlation to the reference methods, quantitative PCR (qPCR) or direct amplicon sequence analysis, in an initial openlabel evaluation with 17 field samples. The tests were further evaluated in a blind study design in a set of 150 patient isolates. High specificities of 98 to 100% were found for all 4 PCR-PEXT genotyping assays. The sensitivities ranged from 75% to 100% when all PEXT-positive tests were considered. A number of samples with a low parasite density were successfully characterized by the reference methods but failed to generate a result in the PCR-PEXT-NALFIA, particularly those samples with microscopynegative subpatent infections. This proof-of principle study validates the use of PCR-PEXT-NALFIA for the detection of resis-tance-associated mutations in P. falciparum, particularly for microscopy-positive infections. Although it requires a standard thermal cycler, the procedure is cheap and rapid and thus a potentially valuable tool for point-of-care detection in developing countries.