Whole cell matrix assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) for identification of <i>Leptospira</i> spp. in Thailand and Lao PDR

by Piengchan Sonthayanon, Janthima Jaresitthikunchai, Suthee Mangmee, Tipparat Thiangtrongjit, Vanaporn Wuthiekanun, Premjit Amornchai, Paul Newton, Rattanaphone Phetsouvanh, Nicholas PJ Day, Sittiruk Roytrakul

Leptospirosis is a zoonosis with a worldwide distribution, caused by pathogenic spirochetes of the genus Leptospira. The classification and identification of leptospires can be conducted by both genotyping and serotyping which are time-consuming and established in few reference laboratories. This study used matrix assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) as rapid and accurate tool for the identification of leptospires. The whole cell protein spectra of 116 Leptospira isolates including 15 references Leptospira spp. (pathogenic, n = 8; intermediate, n = 2; non-pathogenic, n = 5) and 101 Leptospira spp. clinical isolates was created as an in-house MALDI-TOF MS database. Ninety-seven clinical isolates from Thailand and Laos was validated with these protein spectra and revealed 98.9% correct identification when compared with 16S rRNA gene sequences method. Moreover, MALDI-TOF MS could identify spiked leptospires whole cell in urine. Biomarkers for differentiation of leptospires phylogeny and specific protein spectra for most found Leptospira spp. in this area (L. interrogans, L. kirschneri, L. borgpetersenii) based on MALDI-MS algorithm were demonstrated.

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