J.M. Zhang; J.F. Sun; P.Y. Feng; X.Q. Li; C.M. Lu; S. Lu; W.Y. Cai; L.Y. Xi; G.S. de Hoog
Penicillium marneffei infection is a deadly disease and early diagnosis leads to prompt and appropriate antifungal therapy. To develop a sensitive method to diagnose P. marneffei infection, a multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA) assay was adapted. This method can rapidly and specifically detect P. marneffei DNA in cultured cells and paraffin-embedded tissue samples. Three pairs of probes were designed for amplifying the internally (intergenic) transcribed spacer (ITS) region of P. marneffei rRNA using a systematic phylogenetic analysis. These three probe sets produced three amplicons of 198, 166, and 152 bp, respectively, specific for P. marneffei. In contrast, there was only one 198 bp amplicon produced for Talaromyces stipitatus, and one 152 bp amplicon for P. funiculosum, T. intermedius and T. derxii. The probes did not amplify any other reference strains. An array of 40 P. marneffei strains isolated from human patients, bamboo rat, and the local environment was tested by using MLPA, and all were positively identified. Most importantly, P. marneffei in paraffin-embedded tissue specimens from infected human patients was positively amplified by MLPA. The sensitivity and specificity of the MLPA assay could be a useful tool for prompt diagnosis, pathogen characterization, and epidemiological studies of fungal infections.