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Int J Parasitol. 2001 Nov;31(13):1475-87.

Sequence variability in the first internal transcribed spacer region within and among Cyclospora species is consistent with polyparasitism.

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Department of Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA.

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  • Int J Parasitol 2002 Apr;32(4):489.


Cyclospora cayetanensis is a coccidian parasite which causes severe gastroenteritis in humans. Molecular information on this newly emerging pathogen is scarce. Our objectives were to assess genetic variation within and between human-associated C. cayetanensis and baboon-associated Cyclospora papionis by examining the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region of the ribosomal RNA operon, and to develop an efficient polymerase chain reaction- (PCR)-based method to distinguish C. cayetanensis from other closely related organisms. For these purposes, we studied C. cayetanensis ITS-1 nucleotide variability in 24 human faecal samples from five geographic locations and C. papionis ITS-1 variability in four baboon faecal samples from Tanzania. In addition, a continuous sequence encompassing ITS-1, 5.8S rDNA and ITS-2 was determined from two C. cayetanensis samples. The results indicate that C. cayetanensis and C. papionis have distinct ITS-1 sequences, but identical 5.8S rDNA sequences. ITS-1 is highly variable within and between samples, but variability does not correlate with geographic origin of the samples. Despite this variability, conserved species-specific ITS-1 sequences were identified and a single-round, C. cayetanensis-specific PCR-based assay with a sensitivity of one to ten oocysts was developed. This consistent and remarkable diversity among Cyclospora spp. ITS-1 sequences argues for polyparasitism and simultaneous transmission of multiple strains.

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