Multilocus Microsatellite Typing (MLMT) of Strains from Turkey and Cyprus Reveals a Novel Monophyletic L. donovani Sensu Lato Group
Toz, Seray Ozensoy
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Background: New foci of human CL caused by strains of the Leishmania donovani (L. donovani) complex have been recently described in Cyprus and the C¸ ukurova region in Turkey (L. infantum) situated 150 km north of Cyprus. Cypriot strains were typed by Multilocus Enzyme Electrophoresis (MLEE) using the Montpellier (MON) system as L. donovani zymodeme MON-37. However, multilocus microsatellite typing (MLMT) has shown that this zymodeme is paraphyletic; composed of distantly related genetic subgroups of different geographical origin. Consequently the origin of the Cypriot strains remained enigmatic. Methodology/Principal Findings: The Cypriot strains were compared with a set of Turkish isolates obtained from a CL patient and sand fly vectors in south-east Turkey (C¸ ukurova region; CUK strains) and from a VL patient in the south-west (Kus¸adasi; EP59 strain). These Turkish strains were initially analyzed using the K26-PCR assay that discriminates MON-1 strains by their amplicon size. In line with previous DNA-based data, the strains were inferred to the L. donovani complex and characterized as non MON-1. For these strains MLEE typing revealed two novel zymodemes; L. donovani MON-309 (CUK strains) and MON-308 (EP59). A population genetic analysis of the Turkish isolates was performed using 14 hyper-variable microsatellite loci. The genotypic profiles of 68 previously analyzed L. donovani complex strains from major endemic regions were included for comparison. Population structures were inferred by combination of Bayesian model-based and distancebased approaches. MLMT placed the Turkish and Cypriot strains in a subclade of a newly discovered, genetically distinct L. infantum monophyletic group, suggesting that the Cypriot strains may originate from Turkey. Conclusion: The discovery of a genetically distinct L. infantum monophyletic group in the south-eastern Mediterranean stresses the importance of species genetic characterization towards better understanding, monitoring and controlling the spread of leishmaniasis in this region.