2022 journal article
Targeted Next-Generation Sequencing for Comprehensive Testing for Selected Vector-Borne Pathogens in Canines
The standard for detecting vector-borne pathogens is real-time PCR (rtPCR). However, this requires many individual tests to obtain an accurate diagnosis. The purpose of this study was to develop and validate a targeted next-generation sequencing (NGS) assay for vector-borne pathogens. Pathogen target regions were amplified via PCR using two primer pools that were developed in conjunction with ThermoFisher Scientific, and barcoded DNA libraries were prepared and sequenced with the Ion Torrent S5 system. Data were assembled using SPAdes and mapped to a reference file containing sequences from the pathogens. The raw reads were analyzed to confirm the results. Test feasibility and analytical specificity were evaluated with type strains or validated positive clinical samples from dogs. The analytical sensitivity of the method was compared to Ct values obtained by rtPCR testing. Diagnostic sensitivity and specificity were assessed with a set of known positive and negative clinical samples based on rtPCR testing. Positive and negative percent agreements and Cohen's kappa were calculated. The primer sets were specific for the intended targets, based on sequence analysis of the amplified products, and the method detected 17 different pathogens. Analytical sensitivity was equivalent to an rtPCR Ct value of approximately 35-36. The positive percent agreement was 92%, and the negative percent agreement was 88%. Cohen's kappa was 0.804, which indicates almost perfect agreement between the rtPCR assays and the targeted NGS assay. Using a targeted method reduces the costs associated with NGS sequencing and allows for a 2-3 day turn-around time, making this a viable method for detection of vector-borne pathogens in canine whole blood samples.