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Highly parallel sequencing technologies permit cost-effective whole genome sequencing of hundreds of Plasmodium parasites. The ability to sequence clinical Plasmodium samples, extracted directly from patient blood without a culture step, presents a unique opportunity to sample the diversity of "natural" parasite populations in high resolution clinical and epidemiological studies. A major challenge to sequencing clinical Plasmodium samples is the abundance of human DNA, which may substantially reduce the yield of Plasmodium sequence. We tested a range of human white blood cell (WBC) depletion methods on P. falciparum-infected patient samples in search of a method displaying an optimal balance of WBC-removal efficacy, cost, simplicity, and applicability to low resource settings. In the first of a two-part study, combinations of three different WBC depletion methods were tested on 43 patient blood samples in Mali. A two-step combination of Lymphoprep plus Plasmodipur best fitted our requirements, although moderate variability was observed in human DNA quantity. This approach was further assessed in a larger sample of 76 patients from Burkina Faso. WBC-removal efficacy remained high (<30% human DNA in >70% samples) and lower variation was observed in human DNA quantities. In order to assess the Plasmodium sequence yield at different human DNA proportions, 59 samples with up to 60% human DNA contamination were sequenced on the Illumina Genome Analyzer platform. An average ~40-fold coverage of the genome was observed per lane for samples with ≤ 30% human DNA. Even in low resource settings, using a simple two-step combination of Lymphoprep plus Plasmodipur, over 70% of clinical sample preparations should exhibit sufficiently low human DNA quantities to enable ~40-fold sequence coverage of the P. falciparum genome using a single lane on the Illumina Genome Analyzer platform. This approach should greatly facilitate large-scale clinical and epidemiologic studies of P. falciparum.

Original publication

DOI

10.1371/journal.pone.0022213

Type

Journal article

Journal

PLoS One

Publication Date

2011

Volume

6

Keywords

Burkina Faso, DNA, Protozoan, Genome, High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing, Humans, Leukocytes, Lymphocyte Depletion, Mali, Parasitemia, Plasmodium falciparum, Sequence Analysis, DNA