Tasman-PCR: a genetic diagnostic assay for Tasmanian devil facial tumour diseases.
Tasmanian devils have spawned two transmissible cancer clones, known as devil facial tumour 1 (DFT1) and devil facial tumour 2 (DFT2). DFT1 and DFT2 are transmitted between animals by the transfer of allogeneic contagious cancer cells by biting, and both cause facial tumours. DFT1 and DFT2 tumours are grossly indistinguishable, but can be differentiated using histopathology, cytogenetics or genotyping of polymorphic markers. However, standard diagnostic methods require specialist skills and equipment and entail long processing times. Here, we describe Tasman-PCR: a simple polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based diagnostic assay that identifies and distinguishes DFT1 and DFT2 by amplification of DNA spanning tumour-specific interchromosomal translocations. We demonstrate the high sensitivity and specificity of this assay by testing DNA from 546 tumours and 804 normal devils. A temporal-spatial screen confirmed the reported geographic ranges of DFT1 and DFT2 and did not provide evidence of additional DFT clones. DFT2 affects disproportionately more males than females, and devils can be co-infected with DFT1 and DFT2. Overall, we present a PCR-based assay that delivers rapid, accurate and high-throughput diagnosis of DFT1 and DFT2. This tool provides an additional resource for devil disease management and may assist with ongoing conservation efforts.
National Science Foundation (NSF) (via Washington State University (WSU)) (G003286)
Leverhulme Trust (PLP-2014-131)
University of Tasmania Foundation