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Development of novel reagents for tuberculosis detection.

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Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the most prevalent infectious diseases worldwide and causes high morbidity and mortality, despite the widespread availability of effective antibiotics against most strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which is the causative agent of TB. One of the primary reasons that hinder TB control is that many cases of active disease go undetected or are discovered late. This is, in large part, due to the relative insensitivity and limited specificity, amongst other limitations, of the current TB diagnostics tests. Moreover, M. tuberculosis infection can be asymptomatic and latent, or cause active disease. Therefore, an ideal or effective TB diagnostic needs to distinguish between these two states. The aim of this study was to develop novel diagnostic reagents for M. tuberculosis using phage displayed peptides and nucleic acid aptamers with a view to discerning latent from active TB. Using a linear (X12) and constrained (CX7C) phage display libraries, five rounds of selection (biopanning) were performed. Ten phage displayed peptides that bind to the mycobacteria surface were selected. These phage clones were identified using both random clone picking and high throughput (HTP) sequencing. A phage clone displaying the CPLHARLPC peptide was identified by HTP sequencing as the most enriched, representing 82.49% of the selected CX7C phage population. Further characterization showed that it bound better to different mycobacteria species, including M. tuberculosis, than the unselected phage library. Moreover, using surface plasmon resonance (SPR) technology, the chemically synthesised CPLHARLPC peptide was shown to bind M. tuberculosis H37Rv whole cell lysate and not non-mycobacteria lysates. In addition, using the systematic evolution of ligands by exponential enrichment (SELEX) protocol and SPR technology, 2'-Fluoro-pyrimidine-RNA aptamers were selected against the mycobacteria ESX-3 secreted protein, ESX-G. At least five aptamers were identified after five rounds of selection. Two of these aptamers, GH43 and GH78, not only bound EsxG with high affinities, KD 8.04 ± 1.90 nM and KD 78.85 ±9.40 nM respectively, but also preferentially bound EsxG better than the EsxA homologue. Taken together, these findings suggest that a combination of phage display, SELEX and HTP sequencing can be a useful tool for the identification of specific detection reagents that can bind to mycobacteria and its associated targets. These reagents could be exploited to develop alternative molecular probes for TB diagnostics.


Thesis (Ph.D.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, 2013.


Tuberculosis--Epidemiology., Mycobacterium tuberculosis., Theses--Medical microbiology.