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Multilocus microsatellite mapping and identification in Leishmania aethiopica

Research Scholar

Nigatu Kebede Wubie, Pathology (Ethiopia)
Abhay Satoskar, Faculty Mentor


Nigatu Kebede Wubie was born in 1970. He pursued his veterinary medical education at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at Addis Ababa University and earned his DVM, as well as his MSc in tropical veterinary medicine. He has worked as a field veterinarian and is involved in teaching, advising of MSc students and zoonotic diseases research in Addis Ababa University. He has more than 20 published works in local and international journals. Currently, he is doing his PhD research on Cutaneous Leishmaniasis, Leishmania aethiopica, in Ethiopia. His research interests focuses on molecular epidemiology of leishmaniasis, cystic ecchinoccocosis and toxoplasmosis.

What is the issue or problem addressed in your research?

Leishmaniasis is clinically and epidemiologically a diverse zoonotic disease caused by obligatory, intracellular protozoan parasites of the genus Leishmania. There are different species of leishmania that causes cutaneous, mucosal and visceral leishmaniasis. Cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) is more widely distributed in the globe. It has significant social impact as it may lead to severe stigmatization of affected individuals when lesions or scars occur on the face and exposed extremities. In Ethiopia Leishmania aethiopica is considered the predominant etiological agent of cutaneous leishmaniasis. It is reported that the prevalence is increasing and about 20,000 – 500,000 CL cases are diagnosed each year. Detection of the parasite in a skin smear or skin biopsy are not sensitive enough to confirm all CL cases. Therefore, a molecular technique (detection of parasite specific DNA or RNA) is needed as a diagnostic tool. Further more, treatment choices depend on the correct identification of the infecting parasite, makes molecular techniques helpful tools for diagnostic use. The current study was conducted to develop multilocus microsatellite molecular markers for L. aethiopica isolated from human CL patients in Ethiopia.

What methodology did you use in your research?

Methods: Maintaining L. aethiopica, DNA extraction, Polymerase chain reaction, cloning and sequencing were the techniques conducted.

Result: In the present study, 22 different microsatellite markers for the typing of strains of L. aethiopica were identified. All the markers were tested for discriminative powers using a number of L. aethiopica isolates. Among the markers 5 were polymorphic and showed distinctive multilocus genotypes for the L. aethiopica analyzed and classify L. aethiopica into four clusters. Another one marker was species specific to L. aethiopica.

What are the purpose/rationale and implications of your research?

Multilocus microsatellite typing with the markers developed in this study could be used for epidemiological and population genetic studies of strains of L. aethiopica in order to investigate the structure and dynamics of the corresponding natural foci. It will help to answer specific clinical questions, such as the local and diffuse occurrence of lesions, role of parasite persistence after subclinical infection and compare different lesions in the same patient.