Diagnosis of balamuthia mandrillaris encephalitis by thymine⇓adenine cloning using universal eukaryotic primers

Ju Yeong Kim, Myung Hee Yi, Myungjun Kim, Joon Sup Yeom, Hyun Dong Yoo, Seong Min Kim, Tai Soon Yong

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: Identifying the causal pathogen of encephalitis remains a clinical challenge. A 50-year-old man without a history of neurological disease was referred to our department for the evaluation of an intracranial lesion observed on brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, and the pathology results suggested protozoal infection. We identified the species responsible for encephalitis using thymine–adenine (TA) cloning, suitable for routine clinical practice. Methods: We extracted DNA from a paraffin-embedded brain biopsy sample and performed TA cloning using two universal eukaryotic primers targeting the V4-5 and V9 regions of the 18S rRNA gene. The recombinant plasmids were extracted, and the inserted amplicons were identified by Sanger sequencing and a homology search of sequences in the National Center for Biotechnology Information Basic Local Alignment Search Tool. Results: The infection was confirmed to be caused by the free-living amoeba Balamuthia mandrillaris. Two of 41 colonies recombinant with 18S V4-5 primers and 35 of 63 colonies recombinant with the 18S V9 primer contained B. mandrillaris genes; all other colonies contained human genes. Pathogen-specific PCR ruled out Entamoeba histolytica, Naegleria fowleri, Acanthamoeba spp., and Toxoplasma gondii infections. Conclusions: This is the first report of B. mandrillaris-induced encephalitis in Korea based on molecular identification. TA cloning with the 18S rRNA gene is a feasible and affordable diagnostic tool for the detection of infectious agents of unknown etiology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)196-202
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of laboratory medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Korean Society for Laboratory Medicine.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical


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