Plasmodium ovale has two different subspecies: P. ovale curtisi and P. ovale wallikeri, which may be distinguished by the gene potra encoding P. ovale tryptophan-rich antigen. The sequence and size of potra gene was variable between the two P. ovale spp., and more fragment sizes were found compared to previous studies. Further information about the diversity of potra genes in these two P. ovale spp. will be needed.
A total of 110 dried blood samples were collected from the clinical patients infected with P. ovale, who all returned from Africa in Henan Province in 2011-2016. The fragments of potra were amplified by nested PCR. The sizes and species of potra gene were analysed after sequencing, and the difference between the isolates were analysed with the alignment of the amino acid sequences. The phylogenetic tree was constructed by neighbour-joining to determine the genetic relationship among all the isolates. The distribution of the isolates was analysed based on the origin country.
Totally 67 samples infected with P. o. wallikeri, which included 8 genotypes of potra, while 43 samples infected with P. o. curtisi including 3 genotypes of potra. Combination with the previous studies, P. o. wallikeri had six sizes, 227, 245, 263, 281, 299 and 335 bp, and P. o. curtisi had four sizes, 299, 317, 335 and 353 bp, the fragment sizes of 299 and 335 bp were the overlaps between the two species. Six amino acid as one unit was firstly used to analyse the amino acid sequence of potra. Amino acid sequence alignment revealed that potra of P. o. wallikeri differed in two amino acid units, MANPIN and AITPIN, while potra of P. o. curtisi differed in amino acid units TINPIN and TITPIS. Combination with the previous studies, there were ten subtypes of potra exiting for P. o. wallikeri and four subtypes for P. o. curtisi. The phylogenetic tree showed that 11 isolates were divided into two clusters, P. o. wallikeri which was then divided into five sub-clusters, and P. o. curtisi which also formed two sub-clusters with their respective reference sequences. The genetic relationship of the P. ovale spp. mainly based on the number of the dominant amino acid repeats, the number of MANPIN, AITPIN, TINPIN or TITPIS. The genotype of the 245 bp size for P. o. wallikeri and that of the 299 and 317 bp size for P. o. curtisi were commonly exiting in Africa.
This study further proved that more fragment sizes were found, P. o. wallikeri had six sizes, P. o. curtisi had four sizes. There were ten subtypes of potra exiting for P. o. wallikeri and four subtypes for P. o. curtisi. The genetic polymorphisms of potra provided complementary information for the gene tracing of P. ovale spp. in the malaria elimination era.