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J Clin Microbiol. 2007 Sep;45(9):2943-50. Epub 2007 Jul 18.

Assessment of use of microsatellite polymorphism analysis for improving spatial distribution tracking of echinococcus multilocularis.

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Institute of Parasitology, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland.


Alveolar echinococcosis (AE)--caused by the cestode Echinococcus multilocularis--is a severe zoonotic disease found in temperate and arctic regions of the northern hemisphere. Even though the transmission patterns observed in different geographical areas are heterogeneous, the nuclear and mitochondrial targets usually used for the genotyping of E. multilocularis have shown only a marked genetic homogeneity in this species. We used microsatellite sequences, because of their high typing resolution, to explore the genetic diversity of E. multilocularis. Four microsatellite targets (EmsJ, EmsK, and EmsB, which were designed in our laboratory, and NAK1, selected from the literature) were tested on a panel of 76 E. multilocularis samples (larval and adult stages) obtained from Alaska, Canada, Europe, and Asia. Genetic diversity for each target was assessed by size polymorphism analysis. With the EmsJ and EmsK targets, two alleles were found for each locus, yielding two and three genotypes, respectively, discriminating European isolates from the other groups. With NAK1, five alleles were found, yielding seven genotypes, including those specific to Tibetan and Alaskan isolates. The EmsB target, a tandem repeated multilocus microsatellite, found 17 alleles showing a complex pattern. Hierarchical clustering analyses were performed with the EmsB findings, and 29 genotypes were identified. Due to its higher genetic polymorphism, EmsB exhibited a higher discriminatory power than the other targets. The complex EmsB pattern was able to discriminate isolates on a regional and sectoral level, while avoiding overdistinction. EmsB will be used to assess the putative emergence of E. multilocularis in Europe.

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