Use of PCR Targeting of Internal Transcribed Spacer Regions and Single-Stranded Conformation Polymorphism Analysis of Sequence Variation in Different Regions of rRNA Genes in Fungi for Rapid Diagnosis of Mycotic Keratitis


Kumar M, Shukla PK

Date: 15 February 2005


The increased incidence of fungal infections in the recent past has been attributed to the increase in the number of human immunodeficiency virus-positive and AIDS patients. Early diagnosis of mycoses in patients is crucial for prompt antifungal therapy. Immunological methods of diagnosis have not been found to be satisfactory, and recent research has been diverted to the use of PCR for the sensitive and early diagnosis at the molecular level. In the present study we targeted different regions of the rRNA gene to diagnose cases of mycotic keratitis and identify the causal agents. Six fungus-specific primers (primers ITS1, ITS2, ITS3, ITS4, invSR1R, and LR12R) were used, and the amplified products were analyzed by single-stranded conformation polymorphism (SSCP) analysis. Dendrograms of these SSCP patterns, prepared on the basis of Jaccard’s coefficient, indicated that the PCR products obtained with primer pair ITS1 and ITS2 were the best for the identification of fungi. The results were confirmed by sequencing of the PCR products, and the approach was successfully tested experimentally for the detection of mycotic keratitis caused by Aspergillus fumigatus and was used for the diagnosis of fungal corneal ulcers in patients.

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