Application of 12S rRNA Barcodes for the Identification of Animal-Derived Drugs

Jiaoyang Luo1, Dan Yan1, Da Zhang1, Yumei Han1, Xiaoping Dong2, Yong Yang3, Kejun Deng3, Xiaohe Xiao1

1China Military Institute of Chinese Materia Medica, Medicine Center of 302 Military Hospital, Beijing 100039, China
2College of Pharmacy, Chengdu University of Chinese Traditional Medicine, Chengdu 610075, China
3School of Life Science and Technology, University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, Chengdu 610075, China


Purpose. Animal-derived drugs are the major source of biological products and traditional medicine, but they are often difficult to identify, causing confusion in the clinical application. Among these medicinal animals, a number of animal species are endangered, leading to the destruction of biodiversity. The identification of animal-derived drugs and their alternatives would be a first step toward biodiversity conservation and safe medication. Until now, no effective method for identifying animal-derived drugs has been demonstrated; DNA-based species identification presents a brand-new technique. Methods. We designed primers to amplify a 523-bp fragment of 12S rRNA and generated sequences for 13 individuals within six medicinal animal species. We examined the efficiency of species recognition based on this sequence, and we also tested the taxonomic affiliations against the GenBank database. Results. All the tested drugs were identified successfully, and a visible gap was found between the inter-specific and intra-specific variation. We further demonstrated the importance of data exploration in DNA-based species identification practice by examining the sequence characteristics of relative genera in GenBank. This region of the 12S rRNA gene had a 100% success rate of species recognition within the six medicinal animal species. Conclusions. We propose that the 12S rRNA locus might be universal for identifying animal-derived drugs and their adulterants. The development of 12S rRNA for indentifying animal-derived drugs that share a common gene target would contribute significantly to the clinical application of animal-derived drugs and the conservation of medicinal animal species.

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J Pharm Pharm Sci, 14 (3): 358-367, 2011

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