Detection and molecular identification of leishmania RNA virus (LRV) in Iranian Leishmania species

Arch Virol. 2016 Dec;161(12):3385-3390. doi: 10.1007/s00705-016-3044-z. Epub 2016 Sep 7.


Leishmania RNA virus (LRV) was first detected in members of the subgenus Leishmania (Viannia), and later, the virulence and metastasis of the New World species were attributed to this virus. The data on the presence of LRV in Old World species are confined to Leishmania major and a few Leishmania aethiopica isolates. The aim of this study was to survey the presence of LRV in various Iranian Leishmania species originating from patients and animal reservoir hosts. Genomic nucleic acids were extracted from 50 cultured isolates belonging to the species Leishmania major, Leishmania tropica, and Leishmania infantum. A partial sequence of the viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) gene was amplified, sequenced and compared with appropriate sequences from the GenBank database. We detected the virus in two parasite specimens: an isolate of L. infantum derived from a visceral leishmaniasis (VL) patient who was unresponsive to meglumine antimoniate treatment, and an L. major isolate originating from a great gerbil, Rhombomys opimus. The Iranian LRV sequences showed the highest similarities to an Old World L. major LRV2 and were genetically distant from LRV1 isolates detected in New World Leishmania parasites. We could not attribute treatment failure in VL patient to the presence of LRV due to the limited number of specimens analyzed. Further studies with inclusion of more clinical samples are required to elucidate the potential role of LRVs in pathogenesis or treatment failure of Old World leishmaniasis.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Gerbillinae
  • Humans
  • Iran
  • Leishmania infantum / isolation & purification
  • Leishmania infantum / virology*
  • Leishmania major / isolation & purification
  • Leishmania major / virology*
  • Leishmania tropica / isolation & purification
  • Leishmania tropica / virology*
  • Leishmaniasis / parasitology
  • Leishmaniasis / veterinary
  • Leishmaniavirus / genetics*
  • Leishmaniavirus / isolation & purification*
  • Phylogeny
  • RNA-Dependent RNA Polymerase / genetics
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Sequence Homology
  • Viral Proteins / genetics


  • Viral Proteins
  • RNA-Dependent RNA Polymerase