Molecular diagnosis and typing of HTLV-I in KwaZulu-Natal.
Tarin, Michelle Lucille.
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Two areas of the HTLV-I genome were targeted for an in-house molecular diagnostic test, namely the pol and env regions. The pol primers proved the most sensitive (100%)and specific (100%). Amplification using the env primer pair was not reproducible, and was not pursued further. The AmpliSensor assay (Acugen Systems, Lowell, MA) was also tested. The assay was very specific, but not as sensitive as our in-house PCR. To investigate the predominant HTLV-I subtype in the region, a 1535 by env gene was isolated from peripheral blood obtained from five local HTLV-I seropositive patients. Four of the patients presented with HAM/TSP, and the fifth presented with a skin disease. Nucleotide sequencing of the amplified products revealed the local strains to be very conserved, differing by 0.1% to 0.9% among themselves. No apparent difference was noted for the two clinical manifestations. Phylogenetic analysis was performed using repesentative strains from around the world. The local strains clearly fell within the cosmopolitan subtype. The local strains were most closely related to the North American strains suggesting an unexpected link between the two countries.