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Open Access Development of a PCR Assay for the Detection of Spironucleus muris

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Spironucleus muris is a protozoan that can colonize the intestinal tract of many rodent species. Although its effects on animal health and research are debated, S. muris is often included on exclusion lists for rodent facilities. Common diagnostic tests for S. muris are insensitive and typically are performed at postmortem examination. We sought to develop a PCR-based diagnostic test with sufficient sensitivity and specificity for use on fecal samples from live rodents. We designed and optimized a PCR assay that targeted the 16S-like rRNA gene of S. muris. The assay was highly specific, given that samples from mice contaminated with S. muris were PCR positive, whereas samples from mice contaminated with other protozoa were negative. The assay also was highly sensitive, detecting as few as 5 template copies per microliter diluent. All mice positive for S. muris on postmortem exams also were positive by fecal PCR. Moreover, S. muris was detected by PCR in mice negative by postmortem examination but from colonies known to be contaminated as well as in rats and hamsters. To assess protozoal loads in mice of differing ages, the PCR assay was adapted to a quantitative format. Fecal loads of S. muris were highest in 4-wk-old mice and declined with age. The PCR assay developed promises to be a highly specific antemortem diagnostic assay with higher sensitivity than that of existing postmortem tests.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri, USA 2: IDEXX-RADIL, Columbia, Missouri, USA 3: Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri, USA.

Publication date: 2013-03-01

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  • The Journal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (JAALAS) serves as an official communication vehicle for the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS). The journal includes a section of refereed articles and a section of AALAS association news. The mission of the refereed section of the journal is to disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed information on animal biology, technology, facility operations, management, and compliance as relevant to the AALAS membership. JAALAS accepts research reports (data-based) or scholarly reports (literature-based), with the caveat that all articles, including solicited manuscripts, must include appropriate references and must undergo peer review.

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