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1.  Assessment of genetic markers for species differentiation within the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex. 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1996;34(4):933-938.
It is important to correctly identify species within the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex because of the zoonotic implications of bovine tuberculosis, especially in developing countries. We assessed the use of various genetic markers for species-specific identification of mycobacteria from the M. tuberculosis complex. A multiplex PCR designed for detection of the mtp40 and IS1081 elements was optimized and evaluated in 339 mycobacterial strains from different animal and geographic origins. The host range of the IS6110, MPB70, and 16S rRNA genes was also studied by PCR in all the strains. Finally, the usefulness of the genetic markers was compared by an immunoperoxidase test for specific identification of Mycobacterium bovis strains. The mtp40 sequence was detected in 87 of the 91 strains of M. tuberculosis and in 9 of the 11 Mycobacterium africanum strains but not in any of the M. bovis or Mycobacterium microti strains, indicating that the mtp40 element was also found in all of the M. tuberculosis complex strains isolated from seals. This organism is considered to be a true seal pathogen, but its origin is essentially unknown. The finding of the mtp40 element in the strains from seals suggests a closer relationship of these strains with a human origin than to an animal origin. The mtp40 element was not found in any other mycobacterial species included in the study. As a result of this study, we suggest that biochemical tests or alternate genetic markers are still needed to differentiate M. tuberculosis from M. africanum when these species coexist as causative agents of tuberculosis. The immunoperoxidase test worked well for the identification of M. bovis strains. We also report, for the first time, PCR amplification of the repetitive element IS6110 in an isolate of Mycobacterium ulcerans and an isolate of Mycobacterium gilvum, which emphasizes the need for further investigation of the host range of this sequence.
PMCID: PMC228920  PMID: 8815111
2.  Mycobacterium bovis in Burkina Faso: Epidemiologic and Genetic Links between Human and Cattle Isolates 
In sub-Saharan Africa, bovine tuberculosis (bTB) is a potential hazard for animals and humans health. The goal of this study was to improve our understanding of bTB epidemiology in Burkina Faso and especially Mycobacterium bovis transmission within and between the bovine and human populations.
Methodology/principal findings
Twenty six M. bovis strains were isolated from 101 cattle carcasses with suspected bTB lesions during routine meat inspections at the Bobo Dioulasso and Ouagadougou slaughterhouses. In addition, 7 M. bovis strains were isolated from 576 patients with pulmonary tuberculosis. Spoligotyping, RDAf1 deletion and MIRU-VNTR typing were used for strains genotyping. The isolation of M. bovis strains was confirmed by spoligotyping and 12 spoligotype signatures were detected. Together, the spoligotyping and MIRU-VNTR data allowed grouping the 33 M. bovis isolates in seven clusters including isolates exclusively from cattle (5) or humans (1) or from both (1). Moreover, these data (genetic analyses and phenetic tree) showed that the M. bovis isolates belonged to the African 1 (Af1) clonal complex (81.8%) and the putative African 5 (Af5) clonal complex (18.2%), in agreement with the results of RDAf1 deletion typing.
This is the first detailed molecular characterization of M. bovis strains from humans and cattle in Burkina Faso. The distribution of the two Af1 and putative Af5 clonal complexes is comparable to what has been reported in neighbouring countries. Furthermore, the strain genetic profiles suggest that M. bovis circulates across the borders and that the Burkina Faso strains originate from different countries, but have a country-specific evolution. The genetic characterization suggests that, currently, M. bovis transmission occurs mainly between cattle, occasionally between cattle and humans and potentially between humans. This study emphasizes the bTB risk in cattle but also in humans and the difficulty to set up proper disease control strategies in Burkina Faso.
Author Summary
Bovine tuberculosis is an infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium bovis in livestock and wild animals. Humans can acquire this germ by aerogenous route when in close contact with infected animals, or by consuming unpasteurized dairy products from infected animals and also through the skin when handling infected carcasses. For the present study in Burkina Faso, M. bovis strains were collected from slaughtered animals during routine veterinarian inspection at the slaughterhouses of Bobo Dioulasso and Ouagadougou and also from patients with suspected pulmonary tuberculosis. The isolates were genetically characterized using three techniques: spoligotyping, MIRU-VNTR and RDAf1 deletion analysis. Our results highlight two aspects of M. bovis epidemiology that are crucial for disease control: i) M. bovis circulates between Burkina Faso and its neighbouring countries and ii) M. bovis is transmitted mainly between cattle, but also between cattle and humans, and potentially between humans. This study stresses the need to develop an efficient strategy to control M. bovis transmission, but also the difficulty to implement control measures because of the complex epidemiology of bovine tuberculosis in Burkina Faso.
PMCID: PMC4183478  PMID: 25275305
3.  Genomic analysis of Mycobacterium bovis and other members of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex by isoenzyme analysis and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1996;34(5):1136-1142.
Initially, multilocus enzyme electrophoresis was used to examine genetic relationships among 63 isolates of Mycobacterium bovis and 13 other members of the M. tuberculosis complex. The isolates were divided into five electrophoretic types, with a mean genetic diversity of 0.1. The strains were genetically homogenous, indicating that members of the complex were closely related. This supported the suggestion that they should be considered as subspecies of a single species. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) was then used to differentiate these isolates, as well as 59 additional isolates of M. bovis from different parts of the world. PFGE differentiated these strains into 63 patterns (53 patterns for M. bovis). Isolates of M. bovis from Western Australia (n = 46) were more homogenous than isolates from other regions. Eight strains were identified in that state, and one predominantly bovine strain was isolated from two human beings and a feral pig. Although M. bovis isolates from different parts of the world had distinct DNA patterns, some were very similar. PFGE is a highly discriminatory technique for epidemiological studies of bovine tuberculosis. For example, it allowed differentiation between isolates of M. bovis cultured from animals in separate outbreaks of tuberculosis, it suggested the transmission of infection between certain properties, and it demonstrated the existence of multiple infections with different strains at certain farms.
PMCID: PMC228969  PMID: 8727890
Post primary tuberculosis occurs in immunocompetent adults, is restricted to the lungs and accounts for 80% of all clinical cases and nearly 100% of transmission of infection. The supply of human tissues with post primary tuberculosis plummeted with the introduction of antibiotics decades before the flowering of research using molecular methods in animal models. Unfortunately, the paucity of human tissues prevented validation of the models. As a result, it is a paradigm of contemporary research that caseating granulomas are the characteristic lesion of all tuberculosis and that cavities form when they erode into bronchi. This differs from descriptions of the preantibiotic era when many investigators had access to thousands of cases. They reported that post primary tuberculosis begins as an exudative reaction: a tuberculous lipid pneumonia of foamy alveolar macrophages that undergoes caseation necrosis and fragmentation to produce cavities. Granulomas in post primary disease arise only in response to old caseous pneumonia and produce fibrosis, not cavities. We confirmed and extended these observations with study of 104 cases of untreated tuberculosis. In addition, studies of the lungs of infants and immunosuppressed adults revealed a second type of tuberculous pneumonia that seldom produces cavities. Since the concept that cavities arise from caseating granulomas was supported by studies of animals infected with Mycobacterium bovis, we investigated its pathology. We found that M. bovis does not produce post primary tuberculosis in any species. It only produces an aggressive primary tuberculosis that can develop small cavities by erosion of caseating granulomas. Consequently, a key unresolved question in the pathogenesis of tuberculosis is identification of the mechanisms by which Mycobacterium tuberculosis establish a localized safe haven in alveolar macrophages in an otherwise solidly immune host where it can develop conditions for formation of cavities and transmission to new hosts.
PMCID: PMC3215852  PMID: 21733755
Post primary tuberculosis; lung; pathology; cavity; human
5.  Prevalence of Latent and Active Tuberculosis among Dairy Farm Workers Exposed to Cattle Infected by Mycobacterium bovis 
Human tuberculosis caused by M. bovis is a zoonosis presently considered sporadic in developed countries, but remains a poorly studied problem in low and middle resource countries. The disease in humans is mainly attributed to unpasteurized dairy products consumption. However, transmission due to exposure of humans to infected animals has been also recognized. The prevalence of tuberculosis infection and associated risk factors have been insufficiently characterized among dairy farm workers (DFW) exposed in settings with poor control of bovine tuberculosis.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Tuberculin skin test (TST) and Interferon-gamma release assay (IGRA) were administered to 311 dairy farm and abattoir workers and their household contacts linked to a dairy production and livestock facility in Mexico. Sputa of individuals with respiratory symptoms and samples from routine cattle necropsies were cultured for M. bovis and resulting spoligotypes were compared. The overall prevalence of latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) was 76.2% (95% CI, 71.4–80.9%) by TST and 58.5% (95% CI, 53.0–64.0%) by IGRA. Occupational exposure was associated to TST (OR 2.72; 95% CI, 1.31–5.64) and IGRA (OR 2.38; 95% CI, 1.31–4.30) adjusting for relevant variables. Two subjects were diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis, both caused by M. bovis. In one case, the spoligotype was identical to a strain isolated from bovines.
We documented a high prevalence of latent and pulmonary TB among workers exposed to cattle infected with M. bovis, and increased risk among those occupationally exposed in non-ventilated spaces. Interspecies transmission is frequent and represents an occupational hazard in this setting.
Author Summary
Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex causes tuberculosis in humans and other mammals. The complex includes M. bovis, which causes bovine tuberculosis. The main route of transmission of this zoonosis is the consumption of unpasteurized dairy products. Nevertheless, exposure to infected cattle while performing husbandry and farm activities may cause disease as well. In this study we were able to demonstrate: 1) A high prevalence of tuberculosis asymptomatic infection (latent tuberculosis) among workers exposed to infected cattle; 2) A higher probability of infection among individuals who are occupationally exposed in closed spaces; and 3) Cattle to human transmission confirmed by molecular methods (spoligotyping). We conclude that occupational exposure is frequent, and therefore strict prevention and control measures are required in these settings.
PMCID: PMC3636137  PMID: 23638198
6.  A Single-Step Sequencing Method for the Identification of Mycobacterium tuberculosis Complex Species 
The Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTC) comprises closely related species responsible for strictly human and zoonotic tuberculosis. Accurate species determination is useful for the identification of outbreaks and epidemiological links. Mycobacterium africanum and Mycobacterium canettii are typically restricted to Africa and M. bovis is a re-emerging pathogen. Identification of these species is difficult and expensive.
Methodology/Principal Findings
The Exact Tandem Repeat D (ETR-D; alias Mycobacterial Interspersed Repetitive Unit 4) was sequenced in MTC species type strains and 110 clinical isolates, in parallel to reference polyphasic identification based on phenotype profiling and sequencing of pncA, oxyR, hsp65, gyrB genes and the major polymorphism tandem repeat. Inclusion of M. tuberculosis isolates in the expanding, antibiotic-resistant Beijing clone was determined by Rv0927c gene sequencing. The ETR-D (780-bp) sequence unambiguously identified MTC species type strain except M. pinnipedii and M. microti thanks to six single nucleotide polymorphisms, variable numbers (1–7 copies) of the tandem repeat and two deletions/insertions. The ETR-D sequencing agreed with phenotypic identification in 107/110 clinical isolates and with reference polyphasic molecular identification in all isolates, comprising 98 M. tuberculosis, 5 M. bovis BCG type, 5 M. canettii, and 2 M. africanum. For M. tuberculosis isolates, the ETR-D sequence was not significantly associated with the Beijing clone.
ETR-D sequencing allowed accurate, single-step identification of the MTC at the species level. It circumvented the current expensive, time-consuming polyphasic approach. It could be used to depict epidemiology of zoonotic and human tuberculosis, especially in African countries where several MTC species are emerging.
Author Summary
The Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTC) comprises several closely related species responsible for strictly human and zoonotic tuberculosis. Some of the species are restricted to Africa and were responsible for the high prevalence of tuberculosis. However, their identification at species level is difficult and expansive. Accurate species identification of all members is warranted in order to distinguish between strict human and zoonotic tuberculosis, to trace source exposure during epidemiological studies, and for the appropriate treatment of patients. In this paper, the Exact Tandem Repeat D (ETR-D) intergenic region was investigated in order to distinguish MTC species. The ETR-D sequencing unambiguously identified MTC species type strain except M. pinnipedii and M. microti, and the results agreed with phenotypic and molecular identification. This finding offers a new tool for the rapid and accurate identification of MTC species in a single sequencing reaction, replacing the current time-consuming polyphasic approach. Its use could assist public health interventions and aid in the control of zoonotic transmission in African countries, and could be of particular interest with the current emergence of multidrug-resistant and extended-resistance isolates.
PMCID: PMC2453075  PMID: 18618024
7.  Revisiting Host Preference in the Mycobacterium tuberculosis Complex: Experimental Infection Shows M. tuberculosis H37Rv to Be Avirulent in Cattle 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(1):e8527.
Experiments in the late 19th century sought to define the host specificity of the causative agents of tuberculosis in mammals. Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the human tubercle bacillus, was independently shown by Smith, Koch, and von Behring to be avirulent in cattle. This finding was erroneously used by Koch to argue the converse, namely that Mycobacterium bovis, the agent of bovine tuberculosis, was avirulent for man, a view that was subsequently discredited. However, reports in the literature of M. tuberculosis isolation from cattle with tuberculoid lesions suggests that the virulence of M. tuberculosis for cattle needs to be readdressed. We used an experimental bovine infection model to test the virulence of well-characterized strains of M. tuberculosis and M. bovis in cattle, choosing the genome-sequenced strains M. tuberculosis H37Rv and M. bovis 2122/97. Cattle were infected with approximately 106 CFU of M. tuberculosis H37Rv or M. bovis 2122/97, and sacrificed 17 weeks post-infection. IFN-γ and tuberculin skin tests indicated that both M. bovis 2122 and M. tuberculosis H37Rv were equally infective and triggered strong cell-mediated immune responses, albeit with some indication of differential antigen-specific responses. Postmortem examination revealed that while M. bovis 2122/97–infected animals all showed clear pathology indicative of bovine tuberculosis, the M. tuberculosis–infected animals showed no pathology. Culturing of infected tissues revealed that M. tuberculosis was able to persist in the majority of animals, albeit at relatively low bacillary loads. In revisiting the early work on host preference across the M. tuberculosis complex, we have shown M. tuberculosis H37Rv is avirulent for cattle, and propose that the immune status of the animal, or genotype of the infecting bacillus, may have significant bearing on the virulence of a strain for cattle. This work will serve as a baseline for future studies into the genetic basis of host preference, and in particular the molecular basis of virulence in M. bovis.
PMCID: PMC2795854  PMID: 20049086
8.  A Novel Multiplex Real-Time PCR for the Identification of Mycobacteria Associated with Zoonotic Tuberculosis 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(8):e23481.
Tuberculosis (TB) is the leading cause of death worldwide from a single infectious agent. An ability to detect the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTC) in clinical material while simultaneously differentiating its members is considered important. This allows for the gathering of epidemiological information pertaining to the prevalence, transmission and geographical distribution of the MTC, including those MTC members associated with zoonotic TB infection in humans. Also differentiating between members of the MTC provides the clinician with inherent MTC specific drug susceptibility profiles to guide appropriate chemotherapy.
Methodology/Principal Findings
The aim of this study was to develop a multiplex real-time PCR assay using novel molecular targets to identify and differentiate between the phylogenetically closely related M. bovis, M. bovis BCG and M. caprae. The lpqT gene was explored for the collective identification of M. bovis, M. bovis BCG and M. caprae, the lepA gene was targeted for the specific identification of M. caprae and a Region of Difference 1 (RD1) assay was incorporated in the test to differentiate M. bovis BCG. The multiplex real-time PCR assay was evaluated on 133 bacterial strains and was determined to be 100% specific for the members of the MTC targeted.
The multiplex real-time PCR assay developed in this study is the first assay described for the identification and simultaneous differentiation of M. bovis, M. bovis BCG and M. caprae in one internally controlled reaction. Future validation of this multiplex assay should demonstrate its potential in the rapid and accurate diagnosis of TB caused by these three mycobacteria. Furthermore, the developed assay may be used in conjunction with a recently described multiplex real-time PCR assay for identification of the MTC and simultaneous differentiation of M. tuberculosis, M. canettii resulting in an ability to differentiate five of the eight members of the MTC.
PMCID: PMC3153498  PMID: 21858140
9.  Direct Detection and Identification of Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Mycobacterium bovis in Bovine Samples by a Novel Nested PCR Assay: Correlation with Conventional Techniques 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2005;43(11):5670-5678.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis and M. bovis infect animals and humans. Their epidemiologies in developed and developing countries differ, owing to differences in the implementation of preventive measures (World Health Organization, 1999). Identification and differentiation of these closely related mycobacterial species would help to determine the source, reservoirs of infection, and disease burden due to diverse mycobacterial pathogens. The utility of the hupB gene (Rv2986c in M. tuberculosis, or Mb3010c in M. bovis) to differentiate M. tuberculosis and M. bovis was evaluated by a PCR-restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) assay with 56 characterized bovine isolates (S. Prabhakar et al., J. Clin. Microbiol. 42:2724-2732, 2004). The degree of concordance between the PCR-RFLP assay and the microbiological characterization was 99.0% (P < 0.001). A nested PCR (N-PCR) assay was developed, replacing the PCR-RFLP assay for direct detection of M. tuberculosis and M. bovis in bovine samples. The N-PCR products of M. tuberculosis and M. bovis corresponded to 116 and 89 bp, respectively. The detection limit of mycobacterial DNA by N-PCR was 50 fg, equivalent to five tubercle bacilli. M. tuberculosis and/or M. bovis was detected in 55.5% (105/189) of the samples by N-PCR, compared to 9.4% (18/189) by culture. The sensitivities of N-PCR and culture were 97.3 and 29.7, respectively, and their specificities were 22.2 and 77.7%, respectively. The percentages of animals or samples identified as infected with M. tuberculosis or M. bovis by N-PCR and culture reflected the clinical categorizations of the cattle (P of <0.05 to <0.01). Mixed infection by N-PCR was detected in 22 animals, whereas by culture mixed infection was detected in 1 animal.
PMCID: PMC1287790  PMID: 16272503
10.  Relaxed Selection Drives a Noisy Noncoding Transcriptome in Members of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis Complex 
mBio  2014;5(4):e01169-14.
Related species are often used to understand the molecular underpinning of virulence through examination of a shared set of biological features attributable to a core genome of orthologous genes. An important but insufficiently studied issue, however, is the extent to which the regulatory architectures are similarly conserved. A small number of studies have compared the primary transcriptomes of different bacterial species, but few have compared closely related species with clearly divergent evolutionary histories. We addressed the impact of differing modes of evolution within the genus Mycobacterium through comparison of the primary transcriptome of M. marinum with that of a closely related lineage, M. bovis. Both are thought to have evolved from an ancestral generalist species, with M. bovis and other members of the M. tuberculosis complex having subsequently undergone downsizing of their genomes during the transition to obligate pathogenicity. M. marinum, in contrast, has retained a large genome, appropriate for an environmental organism, and is a broad-host-range pathogen. We also examined changes over a shorter evolutionary time period through comparison of the primary transcriptome of M. bovis with that of another member of the M. tuberculosis complex (M. tuberculosis) which possesses an almost identical genome but maintains a distinct host preference.
Our comparison of the transcriptional start site (TSS) maps of M. marinum and M. bovis uncovers a pillar of conserved promoters, noncoding RNA (NCRNA), and a genome-wide signal in the −35 promoter regions of both species. We identify evolutionarily conserved transcriptional attenuation and highlight its potential contribution to multidrug resistance mediated through the transcriptional regulator whiB7. We show that a species population history is reflected in its transcriptome and posit relaxed selection as the main driver of an abundance of canonical −10 promoter sites in M. bovis relative to M. marinum. It appears that transcriptome composition in mycobacteria is driven primarily by the availability of such sites and that their frequencies diverge significantly across the mycobacterial clade. Finally, through comparison of M. bovis and M. tuberculosis, we illustrate that single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP)-driven promoter differences likely underpin many of the transcriptional differences between M. tuberculosis complex lineages.
PMCID: PMC4128351  PMID: 25096875
11.  Use of the hupB Gene Encoding a Histone-Like Protein of Mycobacterium tuberculosis as a Target for Detection and Differentiation of M. tuberculosis and M. bovis 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2004;42(6):2724-2732.
The gene for histone-like protein (hupB [Rv2986c]) of Mycobacterium tuberculosis has been identified as a singular target which allows differentiation of two closely related mycobacterial species, namely, M. tuberculosis and M. bovis of the MTB complex, by a PCR assay. The N and S primer-generated PCR amplicons differed in M. tuberculosis and M. bovis; these amplicons were determined to be 645 and 618 bp, respectively. This difference was localized to the C-terminal part of the gene by using primers M and S. The C-terminal PCR amplicons of M. tuberculosis and M. bovis were determined to be 318 and 291 bp, respectively. The differences in the C-terminal portion of the gene were confirmed by restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis and sequencing. Sequence analysis indicated that in M. bovis there was a deletion of 27 bp (9 amino acids) in frame after codon 128 in the C-terminal part of the hupB gene. In the present study 104 mycobacterial strains and 11 nonmycobacterial species were analyzed for hupB gene sequences. Of the 104 mycobacterial strains included, 62 belonged to the MTB complex and 42 were non-MTB complex strains and species. Neither the hupB gene-specific primers (N and S) nor the C-terminal primers (M and S) amplify DNA from any other mycobacteria, making the assay suitable for distinguishing members of the MTB complex from other mycobacterial species, as well as for differentiating between members of the MTB complex, namely, M. tuberculosis and M. bovis.
PMCID: PMC427828  PMID: 15184459
12.  Genetic Biodiversity of Mycobacterium tuberculosis Complex Strains from Patients with Pulmonary Tuberculosis in Cameroon 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2003;41(6):2547-2553.
We analyzed DNA polymorphisms in 455 Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex isolates from 455 patients to evaluate the biodiversity of tubercle bacilli in Ouest province, Cameroon. The phenotypic and genotypic identification methods gave concordant results for 99.5% of M. tuberculosis isolates (413 strains) and for 90% of Mycobacterium africanum isolates (41 strains). Mycobacterium bovis was isolated from only one patient. Analysis of regions of difference (RD4, RD9, and RD10) proved to be an accurate and rapid method of distinguishing between unusual members of the M. tuberculosis complex. Whereas M. africanum strains were the etiologic agent of tuberculosis in 56% of cases 3 decades ago, our results showed that these strains now account for just 9% of cases of tuberculosis. We identified a group of closely genetically related M. tuberculosis strains that are currently responsible for >40% of smear-positive pulmonary tuberculosis cases in this region of Cameroon. These strains shared a spoligotype lacking spacers 23, 24, and 25 and had highly related IS6110 ligation-mediated (LM) PCR patterns. They were designated the “Cameroon family.” We did not find any significant association between tuberculosis-causing species or strain families and patient characteristics (sex, age, and human immunodeficiency virus status). A comparison of the spoligotypes of the Cameroon strains with an international spoligotype database (SpolDB3) containing 11,708 patterns from >90 countries, showed that the predominant spoligotype in Cameroon was limited to West African countries (Benin, Senegal, and Ivory Coast) and to the Caribbean area.
PMCID: PMC156567  PMID: 12791879
13.  Mycobacterium bovis infections in slaughter pigs in Mubende district, Uganda: a public health concern 
Bovine tuberculosis (TB) caused by Mycobacterium bovis is primarily a disease of ruminants, particularly cattle (Bos primigenius) and buffalo (Syncerus caffer), and is endemic in most developing countries. To date, studies done in Uganda have documented the prevalence of M. bovis in cattle, humans and wild life, in addition to non-tuberculous mycobacteria in pigs. Pigs are increasingly becoming an important component of the livestock sector and share the human ecosystem in rural Uganda. It is therefore of public health interest that they are not a source of human infections. As a follow up to previously published findings on mycobacteria in pigs, this study was aimed at investigating the occurrence and molecular characteristics of M. bovis detected in slaughter pigs in Mubende district, Uganda. One hundred fifty mesenteric lymph nodes with lesions suggestive of mycobacterial infections were collected from approximately one thousand slaughtered pigs in Mubende district over a period of five months. The isolation and identification of M. bovis was done using conventional mycobacteriological methods. Mycobacteria belonging to the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTC) were identified to species level using deletion analysis. Molecular typing was done using Spoligotyping and MIRU-VNTR analysis. Molecular data were analysed and interpreted using MIRU-VNTR plus, SpolDB4.0 and the Mycobacterium bovis spoligo database.
Of the examined animals, one boar and two sows from Madudu Sub County were infected with M. bovis which presented as lesions of a deep yellow colour and a grit-like texture in the mesenteric lymph nodes. This represents 2% (3/150) of the lymph nodes where lesions suggestive of mycobacterial infections were detected. Molecular analysis revealed that the isolates from the infected pigs showed identical MIRU-VNTR profile and spoligotype (SB1469).
This is the first study documenting the occurrence of M. bovis in slaughter pigs in Uganda, revealing that one in fifty slaughter pigs with suspected lesions in mesenteric lymph nodes were infected. Molecular analysis revealed that the isolates were identical, showing a spoligotype previously reported from humans and cattle in the north eastern part of the Uganda cattle corridor. This finding is of public health importance, therefore there is a need for close cooperation between medical and veterinary professionals in designing and implementing control and prevention measures that safeguard the public from this potential source of zoonotic TB in Uganda.
PMCID: PMC3526550  PMID: 22999303
Pigs; Spoligotype; MIRU-VNTR; M. bovis; Uganda
14.  Protection against Tuberculosis in Eurasian Wild Boar Vaccinated with Heat-Inactivated Mycobacterium bovis 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(9):e24905.
Tuberculosis (TB) caused by Mycobacterium bovis and closely related members of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex continues to affect humans and animals worldwide and its control requires vaccination of wildlife reservoir species such as Eurasian wild boar (Sus scrofa). Vaccination efforts for TB control in wildlife have been based primarily on oral live BCG formulations. However, this is the first report of the use of oral inactivated vaccines for controlling TB in wildlife. In this study, four groups of 5 wild boar each were vaccinated with inactivated M. bovis by the oral and intramuscular routes, vaccinated with oral BCG or left unvaccinated as controls. All groups were later challenged with a field strain of M. bovis. The results of the IFN-gamma response, serum antibody levels, M. bovis culture, TB lesion scores, and the expression of C3 and MUT genes were compared between these four groups. The results suggested that vaccination with heat-inactivated M. bovis or BCG protect wild boar from TB. These results also encouraged testing combinations of BCG and inactivated M. bovis to vaccinate wild boar against TB. Vaccine formulations using heat-inactivated M. bovis for TB control in wildlife would have the advantage of being environmentally safe and more stable under field conditions when compared to live BCG vaccines. The antibody response and MUT expression levels can help differentiating between vaccinated and infected wild boar and as correlates of protective response in vaccinated animals. These results suggest that vaccine studies in free-living wild boar are now possible to reveal the full potential of protecting against TB using oral M. bovis inactivated and BCG vaccines.
PMCID: PMC3173485  PMID: 21935486
15.  The Genome of Mycobacterium Africanum West African 2 Reveals a Lineage-Specific Locus and Genome Erosion Common to the M. tuberculosis Complex 
M. africanum West African 2 constitutes an ancient lineage of the M. tuberculosis complex that commonly causes human tuberculosis in West Africa and has an attenuated phenotype relative to M. tuberculosis.
Methodology/Principal Findings
In search of candidate genes underlying these differences, the genome of M. africanum West African 2 was sequenced using classical capillary sequencing techniques. Our findings reveal a unique sequence, RD900, that was independently lost during the evolution of two important lineages within the complex: the “modern” M. tuberculosis group and the lineage leading to M. bovis. Closely related to M. bovis and other animal strains within the M. tuberculosis complex, M. africanum West African 2 shares an abundance of pseudogenes with M. bovis but also with M. africanum West African clade 1. Comparison with other strains of the M. tuberculosis complex revealed pseudogenes events in all the known lineages pointing toward ongoing genome erosion likely due to increased genetic drift and relaxed selection linked to serial transmission-bottlenecks and an intracellular lifestyle.
The genomic differences identified between M. africanum West African 2 and the other strains of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex may explain its attenuated phenotype, and pave the way for targeted experiments to elucidate the phenotypic characteristic of M. africanum. Moreover, availability of the whole genome data allows for verification of conservation of targets used for the next generation of diagnostics and vaccines, in order to ensure similar efficacy in West Africa.
Author Summary
Mycobacterium africanum, a close relative of M. tuberculosis, is studied for the following reasons: M. africanum is commonly isolated from West African patients with tuberculosis yet has not spread beyond this region, it is more common in HIV infected patients, and it is less likely to lead to tuberculosis after one is exposed to an infectious case. Understanding this organism's unique biology gets a boost from the decoding of its genome, reported in this issue. For example, genome analysis reveals that M. africanum contains a region shared with “ancient” lineages in the M. tuberculosis complex and other mycobacterial species, which was lost independently from both M. tuberculosis and M. bovis. This region encodes a protein involved in transmembrane transport. Furthermore, M. africanum has lost genes, including a known virulence gene and genes for vitamin synthesis, in addition to an intact copy of a gene that may increase its susceptibility to antibiotics that are insufficiently active against M. tuberculosis. Finally, the genome sequence and analysis reported here will aid in the development of new diagnostics and vaccines against tuberculosis, which need to take into account the differences between M. africanum and other species in order to be effective worldwide.
PMCID: PMC3289620  PMID: 22389744
16.  Differentiation among Members of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis Complex by Molecular and Biochemical Features: Evidence for Two Pyrazinamide-Susceptible Subtypes of M. bovis 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2000;38(1):152-157.
The variations in biochemical as well as molecular characteristics among several members of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex that are not M. tuberculosis have been assessed to facilitate an unambiguous species identification. Altogether, 96 M. tuberculosis complex strains including 52 M. bovis isolates and 44 M. africanum isolates were analyzed by spoligotyping. The strains could be clustered into five spoligotype groups. All M. bovis isolates showed the typical absence of the spacers 39 to 43 and typical biochemical properties. However, within these strains we found a group of strains that had a spoligotype pattern which is clearly defined by the additional absence of spacers 3 to 16 and that were uncommonly susceptible to pyrazinamide (PZA). This spoligotype pattern has previously been described as being typical for a caprine genotype because of its predominant isolation from sheep and goats. Due to the clinical importance of PZA resistance, we propose two M. bovis subtypes: M. bovis subtype bovis, which is resistant to PZA, and M. bovis subtype caprae, which is susceptible to PZA. Two additional strains that clustered in group 3 showed biochemical and genetic properties typical for M. bovis and were also sensitive to PZA; thus, they may represent a third PZA-susceptible M. bovis subtype. The M. africanum isolates could be clustered into two spoligotype groups which can be differentiated from M. bovis by hybridization to spacers 39 to 43. These groups correspond to the previously described M. africanum subtypes I and II and can be clearly distinguished from each other by spoligotyping and resistance to thiophen-2-carboxylic acid hydrazide. Our results demonstrate that spoligotyping is a useful tool for differentiation of M. bovis and M. africanum. Moreover, we describe two PZA-susceptible M. bovis subtypes and describe a method that facilitates an unambiguous differentiation of the two M. africanum subtypes.
PMCID: PMC86043  PMID: 10618079
17.  Species Distribution of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis Complex in Clinical Isolates from 2007 to 2010 in Turkey: a Prospective Study▿ 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2011;49(11):3837-3841.
The Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTBC) consists of a group of closely related species that differ in their epidemiological profiles, host ranges, pathogenicities, geographic distributions, and drug resistances. Identification of members in the MTBC is essential for monitoring the epidemiology of tuberculosis (TB) and implementing appropriate public health control measures. In this study, 188 consecutive MTBC clinical isolates from 2007 to 2010 were evaluated to determine the prevalence of MTBC species in Turkey. PCR and restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis (PCR-RFLP) of the gyrB gene were used, and results for species other than M. tuberculosis were confirmed using the GenoType MTBC assay (Hain Lifescience, Nehren, Germany). Most of the strains were found to be M. tuberculosis (94.1%). The prevalences of M. bovis and M. caprae were 4.3% and 1.6%, respectively. Only one M. bovis BCG strain was identified. Overall, the frequency of bovine tuberculosis in humans was 5.3%. We had assumed that bovine TB infection was under control in animal herds, but primary M. bovis infections in humans caused by transmission from infected animals are still an issue in Turkey. Our results indicate that the frequent identification of M. bovis in routine mycobacteriological laboratory work has further importance due to the well-known resistance of this species to pyrazinamide.
PMCID: PMC3209075  PMID: 21940474
18.  Allele-Specific PCR Method Based on pncA and oxyR Sequences for Distinguishing Mycobacterium bovis from Mycobacterium tuberculosis: Intraspecific M. bovis pncA Sequence Polymorphism 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1998;36(1):239-242.
An allele-specific amplification method based on two genetic polymorphisms to differentiate Mycobacterium tuberculosis from Mycobacterium bovis was tested. Based on the differences found at position 169 in the pncA genes from M. tuberculosis and M. bovis, a PCR system which was able to differentiate most of the 237 M. tuberculosis complex isolates tested in one of the two species was developed. All 121 M. tuberculosis strains showed the expected base (cytosine) at position 169. Most of the M. bovis isolates had a guanine at the cited position. Nevertheless, 18 of the 116 M. bovis isolates, all of them goat isolates, showed the pncA polymorphism specific to M. tuberculosis. These results suggest that goat M. bovis may be the nicotinamidase-missing link at the origin of the M. tuberculosis species. Based on the polymorphism found at position 285 in the oxyR gene, the same system was used to differentiate M. tuberculosis from M. bovis. In this case, DNAs from all 121 M. tuberculosis isolates had the expected base (guanine) at this position. In addition, all 116 M. bovis isolates, including those from goats, showed the identical polymorphism (adenine). The oxyR allele-specific amplification method can differentiate M. bovis from M. tuberculosis, is rapid (results can be obtained in less than 3 h), and is easy to perform.
PMCID: PMC124842  PMID: 9431955
19.  Sensitive diagnosis of bovine tuberculosis in a farmed cervid herd with use of an MPB70 protein fluorescence polarization assay 
After histopathological examination of a lesion found in a herd member returned a diagnosis of mycobacteriosis, a farmed herd (n = 47) of elk (Cervus elaphus nelsoni) and red deer (C. elaphus elaphus) was investigated for bovine tuberculosis with a battery of antemortem and postmortem diagnostic tests. Every animal was tested with the mid-cervical tuberculin skin test; all 47 had negative results. All of the 16 adult animals and 15 of the 31 calves (approximately 2-years-old) were blood-tested with a lymphocyte stimulation test (LST) and a fluorescence polarization assay (FPA), which detects antibody to the MPB70 protein antigen. At necropsy of the 31 blood-tested animals, tissues were harvested for histopathological examination and culture of mycobacteria. Mycobacterium bovis was isolated from 16 of the 31 animals, and a scotochromogen was also isolated from 1 of the 16 whose tissues yielded M. bovis. Each of these 16 animals, 15 of which were calves, also received a histopathological diagnosis of mycobacteriosis. Other species of mycobacteria, including those belonging to the M. avium and M. terrae complexes, were isolated from an additional 7 animals. The FPA was scored “positive” or “suspect” for 16 animals, 13 (81%) of which were culture-positive for M. bovis. The other 3 animals that were culture-positive for M. bovis had negative FPA results. Of the 3 FPA-positive or FPA-suspect animals that were culture-negative, 2 were suspected to have mycobacteriosis on the basis of the histopathological examination. The 7 animals from which Mycobacterium species other than M. bovis were cultured were all FPA-negative. The only animal with positive LST results was also FPA-positive and culture-positive for M. bovis. The M. bovis isolates had an identical spoligotype pattern, with an octal code of 664073777777600. This is the first report of the isolation and identification of this strain type in Canada.
PMCID: PMC2705069  PMID: 19794887
20.  Extrapulmonary Dissemination of Mycobacterium bovis but Not Mycobacterium tuberculosis in a Bronchoscopic Rabbit Model of Cavitary Tuberculosis▿  
Infection and Immunity  2008;77(2):598-603.
The rabbit model of tuberculosis is attractive because of its pathophysiologic resemblance to the disease in humans. Rabbits are naturally resistant to infection but may manifest cavitary lung lesions. We describe here a novel approach that utilizes presensitization and bronchoscopic inoculation to reliably produce cavities in the rabbit model. With a fixed inoculum of bacilli, we were able to reproducibly generate cavities by using Mycobacterium bovis Ravenel, M. bovis AF2122, M. bovis BCG, M. tuberculosis H37Rv, M. tuberculosis CDC1551, and the M. tuberculosis CDC1551 ΔsigC mutant. M. bovis infections generated cavitary CFU counts of 106 to 109 bacilli, while non-M. bovis species and BCG yielded CFU counts that ranged from 104 to 108 bacilli. Extrapulmonary dissemination was almost exclusively noted among rabbits infected with M. bovis Ravenel and AF2122. Though all of the species yielded secondary lesions at intrapulmonary sites, M. bovis infections led to the most apparent gross pathology. Using the M. tuberculosis icl and dosR gene expression patterns as molecular sentinels, we demonstrated that both the cavity wall and cavity lumen are microenvironments associated with hypoxia, upregulation of the bacterial dormancy program, and the use of host lipids for bacterial catabolism. This unique cavitary model provides a reliable animal model to study cavity pathogenesis and extrapulmonary dissemination.
PMCID: PMC2632025  PMID: 19064634
21.  Rapid and Simple Approach for Identification of Mycobacterium tuberculosis Complex Isolates by PCR-Based Genomic Deletion Analysis 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2002;40(7):2339-2345.
Although the virulences and host ranges differ among members of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (TBC; M. tuberculosis, M. africanum, M. canettii, M. microti, M. bovis, and M. bovis BCG), commercially available molecular assays cannot differentiate these organisms because of the genetic identities of their 16S rRNA gene sequences. Comparative genomic analyses with the complete DNA sequence of M. tuberculosis H37Rv has provided information on regions of difference (RD 1 to RD 16) deleted in members of the TBC other than M. tuberculosis. To determine whether deletion analysis could accurately differentiate members of TBC, we used PCR to assess the presence or absence of specific regions of the genome in 88 well-characterized isolates of M. tuberculosis, M. africanum, M. microti, M. bovis, and M. bovis BCG. The identifications obtained by use of the specific deletion profiles correlated 100% with the original identifications for all TBC members except M. africanum, but further characterization resulted in profiles specific for all members. Although six RD regions were used in the analyses with the original 88 isolates, it was found that the use of RD 1, RD 9, and RD 10 was sufficient for initial screenings, followed by the use of RD 3, RD 5, and RD 11 if the results for any of the first three regions were negative. When 605 sequential clinical isolates were screened, 578 (96%) were identified as M. tuberculosis, 6 (1%) were identified as M. africanum, 8 (1%) were identified as M. bovis, and 13 (2%) were identified as M. bovis BCG. Since PCR-based assays can be implemented in most clinical mycobacteriology laboratories, this approach provides a rapid and simple means for the differentiation of members of TBC, especially M. bovis and M. tuberculosis, when it is important to distinguish between zoonotic sources (i.e., cattle and unpasteurized dairy products) and human sources of tuberculosis disease.
PMCID: PMC120548  PMID: 12089245
22.  Direct detection of Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex in bovine and bubaline tissues through nested-PCR 
Brazilian Journal of Microbiology  2014;45(2):633-640.
Post-mortem bacterial culture and specific biochemical tests are currently performed to characterize the etiologic agent of bovine tuberculosis. Cultures take up to 90 days to develop. A diagnosis by molecular tests such as PCR can provide fast and reliable results while significantly decreasing the time of confirmation. In the present study, a nested-PCR system, targeting rv2807, with conventional PCR followed by real-time PCR, was developed to detect Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTC) organisms directly from bovine and bubaline tissue homogenates. The sensitivity and specificity of the reactions were assessed with DNA samples extracted from tuberculous and non-tuberculous mycobacteria, as well as other Actinomycetales species and DNA samples extracted directly from bovine and bubaline tissue homogenates. Regarding the analytical sensitivity, DNA of the M. bovis AN5 strain was detected up to 1.5 pg by nested-PCR, whereas DNA of M. tuberculosis H37Rv strain was detected up to 6.1 pg. The nested-PCR system showed 100% analytical specificity for MTC when tested with DNA of reference strains of non-tuberculous mycobacteria and closely-related Actinomycetales. A clinical sensitivity level of 76.7% was detected with tissues samples positive for MTC by means of the culture and conventional PCR. A clinical specificity of 100% was detected with DNA from tissue samples of cattle with negative results in the comparative intradermal tuberculin test. These cattle exhibited no visible lesions and were negative in the culture for MTC. The use of the nested-PCR assay to detect M. tuberculosis complex in tissue homogenates provided a rapid diagnosis of bovine and bubaline tuberculosis.
PMCID: PMC4166292  PMID: 25242951
bovine and bubaline tuberculosis; nested-PCR; real-time PCR; tissue; sanitary inspection
23.  Genome structure in the vole bacillus, Mycobacterium microti, a member of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex with a low virulence for humans 
Microbiology (Reading, England)  2004;150(Pt 5):1519-1527.
Mycobacterium microti, a member of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex, is phylogenetically closely related to M. tuberculosis, differing in a few biochemical properties. However, these species have different levels of virulence in different hosts; most notably M. microti shows lower virulence for humans than M. tuberculosis. This report presents genomic comparisons using DNA microarray analysis for an extensive study of the diversity of M. microti strains. Compared to M. tuberculosis H37Rv, 13 deletions were identified in 12 strains of M. microti, including the regions RD1 to RD10, which are also missing in Mycobacterium bovis BCG. In addition, four new deleted regions, named MiD1, RD1β, MiD2 and MiD3, were identified. DNA sequencing was used to define the extent of most of the deletions in one strain. Although RD1 of M. bovis BCG and M. microti is thought to be crucial for attenuation, in this study, three of the four M. microti strains that were isolated from immunocompetent patients had the RD1 deletion. In fact, only the RD3 deletion was present in all of the strains examined, although deletions RD7, RD8 and MiD1 were found in almost all the M. microti strains. These deletions might therefore have some relation to the different host range of M. microti. It was also noticeable that of the 12 strains studied, only three were identical; these strains were all isolated from immunocompetent humans, suggesting that they could have arisen from a single source. Thus, this study shows that it is difficult to ascribe virulence to any particular pattern of deletion in M. microti.
PMCID: PMC2964484  PMID: 15133113
24.  Bovine tuberculosis in African buffaloes: observations regarding Mycobacterium bovis shedding into water and exposure to environmental mycobacteria 
African buffaloes are the maintenance host for Mycobacterium bovis in the endemically infected Kruger National Park (KNP). The infection is primarily spread between buffaloes via the respiratory route, but it is not known whether shedding of M. bovis in nasal and oral excretions may lead to contamination of ground and surface water and facilitate the transmission to other animal species. A study to investigate the possibility of water contamination with M. bovis was conducted in association with a BCG vaccination trial in African buffalo. Groups of vaccinated and nonvaccinated buffaloes were kept together with known infected in-contact buffalo cows to allow natural M. bovis transmission under semi-free ranging conditions. In the absence of horizontal transmission vaccinated and control buffaloes were experimentally challenged with M. bovis. Hence, all study buffaloes in the vaccination trial could be considered potential shedders and provided a suitable setting for investigating questions relating to the tenacity of M. bovis shed in water.
Serial water samples were collected from the drinking troughs of the buffaloes once per season over an eleven-month period and cultured for presence of mycobacteria. All water samples were found to be negative for M. bovis, but 16 non-tuberculous Mycobacterium spp. isolates were cultured. The non-tuberculous Mycobacterium species were further characterised using 5'-16S rDNA PCR-sequencing, resulting in the identification of M. terrae, M. vaccae (or vanbaalenii), M. engbaekii, M. thermoresistibile as well as at least two species which have not yet been classified.
The absence of detectable levels of Mycobacterium bovis in the trough water suggests that diseased buffalo do not commonly shed the organism in high quantities in nasal and oral discharges. Surface water may therefore not be likely to play an important role in the transmission of bovine tuberculosis from buffalo living in free-ranging ecosystems. The study buffalo were, however, frequently exposed to different species of non-tuberculous, environmental mycobacteria, with an unknown effect on the buffaloes' immune response to mycobacteria.
PMCID: PMC2151946  PMID: 17900356
25.  Multiplex Real-Time PCR Assay for Rapid Identification of Mycobacterium tuberculosis Complex Members to the Species Level▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2008;46(7):2241-2246.
The species identification of members of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex is critical to the timely initiation of both appropriate antibiotic therapy and proper public health control measures. However, the current commercially available molecular assays identify mycobacteria only to the complex level and are unable to differentiate M. tuberculosis from the closely related M. bovis and M. bovis BCG. We describe here a rapid and robust two-step, multiplex, real-time PCR assay based on genomic deletions to definitively identify M. tuberculosis, M. bovis, M. bovis BCG, and other members of the complex. When tested against a panel of well-characterized mycobacterial reference strains, the assay was both sensitive and specific, correctly identifying all strains. We applied this assay to 60 clinical isolates previously identified as M. tuberculosis complex and found 57 M. tuberculosis isolates and 3 M. bovis BCG isolates from patients who had received intravesical BCG. Furthermore, analysis of 15 clinical specimens previously identified as M. bovis by spoligotyping revealed an isolate of M. tuberculosis that had been misidentified. We propose that this assay will allow the routine identification of M. tuberculosis complex members in the clinical laboratory.
PMCID: PMC2446918  PMID: 18508937

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