The detection and identification of two endocytobiotic bacterial strains, one affiliated to the "Candidatus Caedibacter acanthamoebae"/"Ca. Paracaedimonas acanthamoeba", and another to the endosymbiont of Acanthamoeba UWC8 and "Ca. Jidaibacter acanthamoeba" are described. For endocytobiont screening, we developed a PCR method with a set of broad-range bacterial 16S rRNA primers to substitute the commonly used but technically demanding fluorescent in situ hybridization technique. Our PCR test alone without sequencing failed to discriminate the endocytobiont-containing and endocytobiont-free Acanthamoeba sp. due to the presence of mismatched primers to host mitochondrial DNA. We highlighted the need to perform bacterial primer checking against the Acanthamoeba genome to avoid false positive detection in PCR. Although the genetic aspect of "Ca. Caedibacter acanthamoebae"/"Ca. Paracaedimonas acanthamoeba" and the endosymbiont of Acanthamoeba UWC8/"Ca. Jidaibacter acanthamoeba" are well studied, knowledge pertaining to their morphologies are quite vague. Hence, we used transmission electron microscopy to examine our endocytobionts which are affiliated to previously described intracellular bacteria of Acanthamoeba sp. We used good-quality TEM images for the localization and the fate of the current endocytobionts inside different life stages of the hosts. Furthermore, to the best of our knowledge, our TEM findings are the first to provide morphological evidence for the clearance of defective Acanthamoeba endocytobionts via an autophagic-like process.
During a study on the quality of the indoor environment, Acanthamoeba spp. were detected in 20 out of 87 dust samples collected from air-conditioners installed in a four-story campus building located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Twenty-one cloned Acanthamoeba isolates designated as IMU1 to IMU21 were established from the positive primary cultures. Five species were identified from the 16 isolates according to the morphological criteria of Pussard and Pons; i.e. A. castellanii, A. culbertsoni, A. griffini, A. hatchetti and A. polyphaga. Species identities for the remaining five isolates (IMU4, IMU5, IMU15, IMU20 and IMU21), however, could not be determined morphologically. At genotypic characterization, these isolates were placed into T3 (IMU14); T5 (IMU16 and IMU17) and T4 (all the remaining isolates). To predict the potential pathogenicity of these Acanthamoeba isolates, thermo- and osmotolerance tests were employed; many isolates were predicted as potential human pathogens based on the outcome of these tests. This is the first time potentially pathogenic Acanthamoeba have been isolated from air-conditioners in Malaysia.
Brain-eating amoebae (Acanthamoeba spp., Balamuthia mandrillaris, Naegleria fowleri) have gained increasing attention owing to their capacity to produce severe human and animal infections involving the brain. Early detection is a pre-requisite in successful prognosis. Here, we developed a nanoPCR assay for the rapid detection of brain-eating amoebae using various nanoparticles. Graphene oxide, copper and alumina nanoparticles used in this study were characterized using Raman spectroscopy measurements through excitation with a He-Ne laser, while powder X-ray diffraction patterns were taken on a PANanalytical, X'Pert HighScore diffractometer and the morphology of the materials was confirmed using high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM). Using nanoparticle-assisted PCR, the results revealed that graphene oxide, copper oxide and alumina nanoparticles significantly enhanced PCR efficiency in the detection of pathogenic free-living amoebae using genus-specific probes. The optimal concentration of graphene oxide, copper oxide and alumina nanoparticles for Acanthamoeba spp. was determined at 0.4, 0.04 and 0.4 μg per mL respectively. For B. mandrillaris, the optimal concentration was determined at 0.4 μg per mL for graphene oxide, copper oxide and alumina nanoparticles, and for Naegleria, the optimal concentration was 0.04, 4.0 and 0.04 μg per mL respectively. Moreover, combinations of these nanoparticles proved to further enhance PCR efficiency. The addition of metal oxide nanoparticles leads to excellent surface effect, while thermal conductivity property of the nanoparticles enhances PCR productivity. These findings suggest that nanoPCR assay has tremendous potential in the clinical diagnosis of parasitic infections as well as for studying epidemiology and pathology and environmental monitoring of other microbes.
Brain-eating amoebae (Acanthamoeba spp., Balamuthia mandrillaris, and Naegleria fowleri) can cause opportunistic infections involving the central nervous system. It is troubling that the mortality rate is more than 90% despite advances in antimicrobial chemotherapy over the last few decades. Here, we describe urgent key priorities for improving outcomes from infections due to brain-eating amoebae.