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1.  Association between spoligotype-VNTR types and virulence of Mycobacterium bovis in cattle 
Virulence  2014;5(2):297-302.
Mycobacterium bovis is the causative agent of bovine tuberculosis, a disease that affects approximately 5% of Argentine cattle. The aim of this research was to study if it is possible to infer the degree of virulence of different M. bovis genotypes based on scorified observations of tuberculosis lesions in cattle.
In this study, we performed association analyses between several parameters with tuberculosis lesions: M. bovis genotype, degree of progression of tuberculosis, and animal age. For this purpose, the genotype was determined by spoligotyping and the degree of bovine tuberculosis gross lesion was quantified with a score based on clinical observations (number, size, and location of granulomas along with histopathologic features). This study was performed with naturally infected cattle of slaughterhouses from three provinces in Argentina.
A total of 265 M. bovis isolates were obtained from 378 pathological lesion samples and 192 spoligotyping and VNTR (based on ETR sequences) typing patterns were obtained. SB0140 was the most predominant spoligotype, followed by SB0145. The spoligotype with the highest lesion score was SB0273 (median score of 27 ± 4.46), followed by SB0520 (18 ± 5.8). Furthermore, the most common spoligotype, SB0140, had a median score of 11 ± 0.74. Finally, the spoligotype with the lowest score was SB0145 (8 ± 1.0). ETR typing of SB0140, SB0145, SB0273, and SB0520 did not subdivide the lesion scores in those spoligotypes.
In conclusion, SB0273 and SB0520 were the spoligotypes with the strongest association with hypervirulence and both spoligotypes were only found in Río Cuarto at the south of Córdoba province. Interestingly, there is no other report of any of these spoligotyes in Latin America.
PMCID: PMC3956505  PMID: 24398919
Mycobacterium bovis; virulence; genotype; granuloma; spoligotype; VNTR
2.  Genotyping Mycobacterium bovis from cattle in the Central Pampas of Argentina: temporal and regional trends 
Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz  2014;109(2):236-245.
Mycobacterium bovis is the causative agent of bovine tuberculosis (TB), a disease that affects approximately 5% of Argentinean cattle. Among the molecular methods for genotyping, the most convenient are spoligotyping and variable number of tandem repeats (VNTR). A total of 378 samples from bovines with visible lesions consistent with TB were collected at slaughterhouses in three provinces, yielding 265 M. bovis spoligotyped isolates, which were distributed into 35 spoligotypes. In addition, 197 isolates were also typed by the VNTR method and 54 combined VNTR types were detected. There were 24 clusters and 27 orphan types. When both typing methods were combined, 98 spoligotypes and VNTR types were observed with 27 clusters and 71 orphan types. By performing a meta-analysis with previous spoligotyping results, we identified regional and temporal trends in the population structure of M. bovis. For SB0140, the most predominant spoligotype in Argentina, the prevalence percentage remained high during different periods, varying from 25.5-57.8% (1994-2011). By contrast, the second and third most prevalent spoligotypes exhibited important fluctuations. This study shows that there has been an expansion in ancestral lineages as demonstrated by spoligotyping. However, exact tandem repeat typing suggests dynamic changes in the clonal population of this microorganism.
PMCID: PMC4015263  PMID: 24676658
bovine TB; Mycobacterium bovis; spoligotype; VNTR
3.  Assessment of Mycobacterium bovis Deleted in p27-p55 Virulence Operon as Candidate Vaccine against Tuberculosis in Animal Models 
BioMed Research International  2014;2014:951978.
A Mycobacterium bovis knockout in p27-p55 operon was tested as an antituberculosis experimental vaccine in animal models. The mutant MbΔp27-p55 was significantly more attenuated in nude mice than its parental strain but more virulent than BCG Pasteur. Challenge experiments in mice and guinea pigs using M. bovis or M. tuberculosis strains showed similar protection conferred by MbΔp27-p55 mutant than BCG in terms of pathology and bacterial loads in spleen but lower protection than BCG in lungs. When tested in cattle, MbΔp27-p55 did not induce IL-2 expression and induced a very low production of IFNγ, suggesting that the lack of P27/P55 reduces the capacity of M. bovis of triggering an adequate Th1 response.
PMCID: PMC3918748  PMID: 24588000
4.  Draft Genome Sequence of Mycobacterium bovis 04-303, a Highly Virulent Strain from Argentina 
Genome Announcements  2013;1(6):e00931-13.
Mycobacterium bovis strain 04-303 was isolated from a wild boar living in a free-ranging field in Argentina. This work reports the draft genome sequence of this highly virulent strain and the genomic comparison of its major virulence-related genes with those of M. bovis strain AF2122/97 and Mycobacterium tuberculosis strain H37Rv.
PMCID: PMC3869323  PMID: 24285661
5.  Impact of the deletion of the six mce operons in Mycobacterium smegmatis 
The Mycobacterium smegmatis genome contains six operons designated mce (mammalian cell entry). These operons, which encode membrane and exported proteins, are highly conserved in pathogenic and non-pathogenic mycobacteria. Although the function of the Mce protein family has not yet been established in Mycobacterium smegmatis, the requirement of the mce4 operon for cholesterol utilization and uptake by Mycobacterium tuberculosis has recently been demonstrated. In this study, we report the construction of an M. smegmatis knock-out mutant deficient in the expression of all six mce operons. The consequences of these mutations were studied by analyzing physiological parameters and phenotypic traits. Differences in colony morphology, biofilm formation and aggregation in liquid cultures were observed, indicating that mce operons of M. smegmatis are implicated in the maintenance of the surface properties of the cell. Importantly, the mutant strain showed reduced cholesterol uptake when compared to the parental strain. Further cholesterol uptake studies using single mce mutant strains showed that the mutation of operon mce4 was reponsible for the cholesterol uptake failure detected in the sextuple mce mutant. This finding demonstrates that mce4 operon is involved in cholesterol transport in M. smegmatis.
PMCID: PMC3615541  PMID: 22353253
Cell envelope; Mce operons; Mycobacterium smegmatis; Mycobacterium tuberculosis attenuation
6.  Virulence factors of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex 
Virulence  2013;4(1):3-66.
The Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTBC) consists of closely related species that cause tuberculosis in both humans and animals. This illness, still today, remains to be one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality throughout the world. The mycobacteria enter the host by air, and, once in the lungs, are phagocytated by macrophages. This may lead to the rapid elimination of the bacillus or to the triggering of an active tuberculosis infection. A large number of different virulence factors have evolved in MTBC members as a response to the host immune reaction. The aim of this review is to describe the bacterial genes/proteins that are essential for the virulence of MTBC species, and that have been demonstrated in an in vivo model of infection. Knowledge of MTBC virulence factors is essential for the development of new vaccines and drugs to help manage the disease toward an increasingly more tuberculosis-free world.
PMCID: PMC3544749  PMID: 23076359
Mycobacterium tuberculosis; virulence factors; virulence; pathogen; virulence genes
7.  Isolation of Paenibacillus sp. and Variovorax sp. strains from decaying woods and characterization of their potential for cellulose deconstruction 
Prospection of cellulose-degrading bacteria in natural environments allows the identification of novel cellulases and hemicellulases that could be useful in second-generation bioethanol production. In this work, cellulolytic bacteria were isolated from decaying native forest soils by enrichment on cellulose as sole carbon source. There was a predominance of Gram positive isolates that belonged to the phyla Proteobacteria and Firmicutes. Many primary isolates with cellulolytic activity were not pure cultures. From these consortia, isolation of pure constituents was attempted in order to test the hypothesis whether microbial consortia are needed for full degradation of complex substrates. Two isolates, CB1-2-A-5 and VG-4-A-2, were obtained as the pure constituents of CB1-2 and VG-4 consortia, respectively. Based on 16S RNA sequence, they could be classified as Variovorax paradoxus and Paenibacillus alvei. Noteworthy, only VG-4 consortium showed measurable xylan degrading capacity and signs of filter paper degradation. However, no xylan or filter paper degrading capacities were observed for the pure cultures isolated from it, suggesting that other members of this consortium were necessary for these hydrolyzing activities. Our results indicated that Paenibacillus sp. and Variovorax sp. as well as VG-4 consortium, might be a useful source of hydrolytic enzymes. Moreover, although Variovorax sp. had been previously identified in metagenomic studies of cellulolytic communities, this is the first report on the isolation and characterization of this microorganism as a cellulolytic genus.
PMCID: PMC3533884  PMID: 23301200
Cellulolytic bacteria; variovorax; paenibacillus; soil
8.  Vaccination with a BCG Strain Overexpressing Ag85B Protects Cattle against Mycobacterium bovis Challenge 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e51396.
Mycobacterium bovis is the causative agent of tuberculosis in cattle but also infects other animals, including humans. Previous studies in cattle have demonstrated that the protection induced by BCG is not complete. In order to improve the protection efficacy of BCG, in this study we overexpressed Ag85B in a BCG Pasteur strain, by using an expression system based on the use of an auxotrophic strain for the leucine amino acid, and complementation with leuD. We found that vaccination of cattle with BCG overexpressing Ag85B induced higher production of IL-17 and IL-4 mRNA upon purified protein derivative (PPDB) stimulation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) than vaccination with BCG. Moreover, the IL-17 mRNA expression after vaccination negatively correlated with disease severity resulting from a subsequent challenge with M. bovis, suggesting that this cytokine is a potential biomarker of cattle protection against bovine tuberculosis. Importantly, vaccination with the recombinant BCG vaccine protected cattle better than the wild-type BCG Pasteur.
PMCID: PMC3519572  PMID: 23251517
9.  Vaccination of guinea pigs using mce operon mutants of Mycobacterium tuberculosis 
Vaccine  2011;29(26):4302-4307.
The limited efficacy of the BCG vaccine for tuberculosis, coupled with emerging information suggesting that it is poorly protective against newly emerging strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis such as the W-Beijing isolates, makes it paramount to search for more potent alternatives. One such class of candidates is attenuated mutants derived from M. tuberculosis itself. We demonstrate here, in an initial short term assay, that mutants derived from disruption of the mce genes of the bacillus were highly protective in guinea pigs exposed by low dose aerosol infection with the virulent W-Beijing isolate SA161. This protection was demonstrated by a significant reduction in the numbers of bacilli harvested from the lungs, and dramatic improvements in lung histopathology.
PMCID: PMC3175756  PMID: 21515327
Tuberculosis; Vaccination; Guinea pig; Attenuated mutants
10.  Assessment of the Immune Responses Induced in Cattle after Inoculation of a Mycobacterium bovis Strain Deleted in Two mce2 Genes 
The generation of efficient candidate vaccines against bovine tuberculosis will contribute to the control of this zoonotic disease. Rationally attenuated Mycobacterium bovis strains generated by knockout of virulence genes are promising candidate vaccines. However, to be effective, these candidate vaccines should at least maintain the immunological properties of their virulent parental M. bovis strains. Therefore, the aim of this study was to obtain an M. bovis strain deleted in the mce2 genes and evaluate the effect of the mutation on the immunological profile elicited by the bacteria in cattle. We showed that the activation of CD4+ T cells in cattle inoculated with the mutant strain was equivalent to that in animals inoculated with the parental strain. Moreover, after in vitro stimulation, peripheral blood mononuclear cells from animals inoculated with the mutant produced higher levels of mRNA Th-1 cytokines than the parental strain. Therefore, these results indicate that the mce2 mutant is a promising candidate vaccine against bovine tuberculosis.
PMCID: PMC3374952  PMID: 22719207
11.  Role of P27 -P55 operon from Mycobacterium tuberculosis in the resistance to toxic compounds 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2011;11:195.
The P27-P55 (lprG-Rv1410c) operon is crucial for the survival of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of human tuberculosis, during infection in mice. P55 encodes an efflux pump that has been shown to provide Mycobacterium smegmatis and Mycobacterium bovis BCG with resistance to several drugs, while P27 encodes a mannosylated glycoprotein previously described as an antigen that modulates the immune response against mycobacteria. The objective of this study was to determine the individual contribution of the proteins encoded in the P27-P55 operon to the resistance to toxic compounds and to the cell wall integrity of M. tuberculosis.
In order to test the susceptibility of a mutant of M. tuberculosis H37Rv in the P27-P55 operon to malachite green, sodium dodecyl sulfate, ethidium bromide, and first-line antituberculosis drugs, this strain together with the wild type strain and a set of complemented strains were cultivated in the presence and in the absence of these drugs. In addition, the malachite green decolorization rate of each strain was obtained from decolorization curves of malachite green in PBS containing bacterial suspensions.
The mutant strain decolorized malachite green faster than the wild type strain and was hypersensitive to both malachite green and ethidium bromide, and more susceptible to the first-line antituberculosis drugs: isoniazid and ethambutol. The pump inhibitor reserpine reversed M. tuberculosis resistance to ethidium bromide. These results suggest that P27-P55 functions through an efflux-pump like mechanism. In addition, deletion of the P27-P55 operon made M. tuberculosis susceptible to sodium dodecyl sulfate, suggesting that the lack of both proteins causes alterations in the cell wall permeability of the bacterium. Importantly, both P27 and P55 are required to restore the wild type phenotypes in the mutant.
The results clearly indicate that P27 and P55 are functionally connected in processes that involve the preservation of the cell wall and the transport of toxic compounds away from the cells.
PMCID: PMC3146831  PMID: 21762531
Mycobacterium tuberculosis; lprG; P55; P27
12.  Evaluation of pathogenesis caused in cattle and guinea pig by a Mycobacterium bovis strain isolated from wild boar 
In many regions of the world, wild mammals act as reservoir of Mycobacterium bovis, a situation that prevents the eradication of bovine tuberculosis. In order to observe whether a strain isolated from a wild boar, previously tested as highly virulent in a mice model, is also virulent in cattle, we performed cattle experimental inoculation with this strain
Groups of Friesian calves were either infected with the wild boar strain M. bovis 04-303 or with the bovine strain NCTC10772 as a control. We found that antigen-specific IFN-γ release in whole blood samples occurred earlier in animals infected with M. bovis 04-303. Both M. bovis strains resulted in a positive skin test, with animals infected with the wild boar isolate showing a stronger response. These results and the presence of more severe organ lesions, with granuloma and pneumonic areas in cattle demonstrate that the wild boar isolate is more virulent than the NCTC10772 strain. Additionally, we tested the infectivity of the M. bovis strains in guinea pigs and found that M. bovis 04-303 had the highest pathogenicity.
M. bovis strains isolated from wild boars may be pathogenic for cattle, producing TB lesions.
PMCID: PMC3152892  PMID: 21745408
boars; tuberculosis; bovines; Mycobacterium bovis
13.  Mycobacterium bovis in Swine: Spoligotyping of Isolates from Argentina 
A total of 143 Mycobacterium bovis isolates of pigs, from the most productive swine area in Argentina, were typed by spoligotyping. Twenty-two different spoligotypes were identified, and 133 (93%) isolates were grouped into 12 clusters. One of them, designed SB0140, was the most frequent because it held 83 (58%) isolates. This spoligotype also grouped 362 (43%) out of 841 isolates from previously typed cattle and, thus, constitutes the most frequent in our country. In addition, 135 (94%) isolates revealed spoligotypes identical to those of cattle, showing an epidemiological link. On the other hand, there were seven novel spoligotypes, six of which were also unique since they had only one isolate each. This study aimed to identify the spoligotypes of M. bovis isolated from pigs to contribute to a better understanding of the distribution of bovine tuberculosis in the main productive area of Argentina.
PMCID: PMC3087618  PMID: 21547236
14.  Designed Coiled-Coil Peptides Inhibit the Type Three Secretion System of Enteropathogenic Escherichia coli 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(2):e9046.
Enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC) and enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) are two categories of E. coli strains associated with human disease. A major virulence factor of both pathotypes is the expression of a type three secretion system (TTSS), responsible for their ability to adhere to gut mucosa causing a characteristic attaching and effacing lesion (A/E). The TTSS translocates effector proteins directly into the host cell that subvert mammalian cell biochemistry.
Methods/Principal Findings
We examined synthetic peptides designed to inhibit the TTSS. CoilA and CoilB peptides, both representing coiled-coil regions of the translocator protein EspA, and CoilD peptide, corresponding to a coiled–coil region of the needle protein EscF, were effective in inhibiting the TTSS dependent hemolysis of red blood cells by the EPEC E2348/69 strain. CoilA and CoilB peptides also reduced the formation of actin pedestals by the same strain in HEp-2 cells and impaired the TTSS-mediated protein translocation into the epithelial cell. Interestingly, CoilA and CoilB were able to block EspA assembly, destabilizing the TTSS and thereby Tir translocation. This blockage of EspA polymerization by CoilA or CoilB peptides, also inhibited the correct delivery of EspB and EspD as detected by immunoblotting. Interestingly, electron microscopy of bacteria incubated with the CoilA peptide showed a reduction of the length of EspA filaments.
Our data indicate that coiled-coil peptides can prevent the assembly and thus the functionality of the TTSS apparatus and suggest that these peptides could provide an attractive tool to block EPEC and EHEC pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC2816223  PMID: 20140230
15.  Identification of two proteins that interact with the Erp virulence factor from Mycobacterium tuberculosis by using the bacterial two-hybrid system 
The exported repetitive protein (erp) gene encodes a secreted 36-kDa protein with a central domain containing several proline-glycine-leucine-threonine-serine (PGLTS) repeats. It has been demonstrated that erp is a virulence-associated factor since the disruption of this gene impairs the growth of Mycobacterium bovis and Mycobacterium tuberculosis in mice.
In order to elucidate the function of Erp we searched for Erp-binding proteins from M. tuberculosis by using a bacterial two-hybrid system. Our results indicate that Erp interacts specifically with two putative membrane proteins, Rv1417 and Rv2617c. Further analysis revealed that the latter two interact with each other, indicating that Rv1417, Rv2617c and Erp are connected through multiple interactions. While Rv1417 is disseminated in several Actinomycetales genera, orthologues of Rv2617c are exclusively present in members of the M. tuberculosis complex (MTC). The central and amino-terminal regions of Erp were determined to be involved in the interaction with Rv1417 and Rv2627c. Erp forms from Mycobacterium smegmatis and Mycobacterium leprae were not able to interact with Rv2617c in two-hybrid assays. Immunolocalization experiments showed that Rv1417 and Rv2617c are found on the cell membrane and Erp on the bacterial cell wall. Finally, comparative genomics and expression studies revealed a possible role of Rv1417 in riboflavin metabolism.
We identified interactive partners of Erp, an M. tuberculosis protein involved in virulence, which will be the focus of future investigation to decipher the function of the Erp family protein.
PMCID: PMC2639381  PMID: 19159459
16.  Study of the role of Mce3R on the transcription of mce genes of Mycobacterium tuberculosis 
BMC Microbiology  2008;8:38.
mce3 is one of the four virulence-related mce operons of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. In a previous work we showed that the overexpression of Mce3R in Mycobacterium smegmatis and M. tuberculosis abolishes the expression of lacZ fused to the mce3 promoter, indicating that Mce3R represses mce3 transcription.
We obtained a knockout mutant strain of M. tuberculosis H37Rv by inserting a hygromycin cassette into the mce3R gene. The mutation results in a significant increase in the expression of mce3 genes either in vitro or in a murine cell macrophages line as it was determined using promoter-lacZ fusions in M. tuberculosis. The abundance of mce1, mce2 and mce4 mRNAs was not affected by this mutation as it was demonstrated by quantitative RT-PCR. The mce3R promoter activity in the presence of Mce3R was significantly reduced compared with that in the absence of the regulator, during the in vitro culture of M. tuberculosis.
Mce3R repress the transcription of mce3 operon and self regulates its own expression but does not affect the transcription of mce1, mce2 and mce4 operons of M. tuberculosis.
PMCID: PMC2277422  PMID: 18304349
17.  Insights into the evolutionary history of tubercle bacilli as disclosed by genetic rearrangements within a PE_PGRS duplicated gene pair 
The highly homologous PE_PGRS (Proline-glutamic acid_polymorphic GC-rich repetitive sequence) genes are members of the PE multigene family which is found only in mycobacteria. PE genes are particularly abundant within the genomes of pathogenic mycobacteria where they seem to have expanded as a result of gene duplication events. PE_PGRS genes are characterized by their high GC content and extensive repetitive sequences, making them prone to recombination events and genetic variability.
Comparative sequence analysis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis genes PE_PGRS17 (Rv0978c) and PE_PGRS18 (Rv0980c) revealed a striking genetic variation associated with this typical tandem duplicate. In comparison to the M. tuberculosis reference strain H37Rv, the variation (named the 12/40 polymorphism) consists of an in-frame 12-bp insertion invariably accompanied by a set of 40 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that occurs either in PE_PGRS17 or in both genes. Sequence analysis of the paralogous genes in a representative set of worldwide distributed tubercle bacilli isolates revealed data which supported previously proposed evolutionary scenarios for the M. tuberculosis complex (MTBC) and confirmed the very ancient origin of "M. canettii" and other smooth tubercle bacilli. Strikingly, the identified polymorphism appears to be coincident with the emergence of the post-bottleneck successful clone from which the MTBC expanded. Furthermore, the findings provide direct and clear evidence for the natural occurrence of gene conversion in mycobacteria, which appears to be restricted to modern M. tuberculosis strains.
This study provides a new perspective to explore the molecular events that accompanied the evolution, clonal expansion, and recent diversification of tubercle bacilli.
PMCID: PMC1762029  PMID: 17163995
18.  Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex genetic diversity: mining the fourth international spoligotyping database (SpolDB4) for classification, population genetics and epidemiology 
BMC Microbiology  2006;6:23.
The Direct Repeat locus of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTC) is a member of the CRISPR (Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) sequences family. Spoligotyping is the widely used PCR-based reverse-hybridization blotting technique that assays the genetic diversity of this locus and is useful both for clinical laboratory, molecular epidemiology, evolutionary and population genetics. It is easy, robust, cheap, and produces highly diverse portable numerical results, as the result of the combination of (1) Unique Events Polymorphism (UEP) (2) Insertion-Sequence-mediated genetic recombination. Genetic convergence, although rare, was also previously demonstrated. Three previous international spoligotype databases had partly revealed the global and local geographical structures of MTC bacilli populations, however, there was a need for the release of a new, more representative and extended, international spoligotyping database.
The fourth international spoligotyping database, SpolDB4, describes 1939 shared-types (STs) representative of a total of 39,295 strains from 122 countries, which are tentatively classified into 62 clades/lineages using a mixed expert-based and bioinformatical approach. The SpolDB4 update adds 26 new potentially phylogeographically-specific MTC genotype families. It provides a clearer picture of the current MTC genomes diversity as well as on the relationships between the genetic attributes investigated (spoligotypes) and the infra-species classification and evolutionary history of the species. Indeed, an independent Naïve-Bayes mixture-model analysis has validated main of the previous supervised SpolDB3 classification results, confirming the usefulness of both supervised and unsupervised models as an approach to understand MTC population structure. Updated results on the epidemiological status of spoligotypes, as well as genetic prevalence maps on six main lineages are also shown. Our results suggests the existence of fine geographical genetic clines within MTC populations, that could mirror the passed and present Homo sapiens sapiens demographical and mycobacterial co-evolutionary history whose structure could be further reconstructed and modelled, thereby providing a large-scale conceptual framework of the global TB Epidemiologic Network.
Our results broaden the knowledge of the global phylogeography of the MTC complex. SpolDB4 should be a very useful tool to better define the identity of a given MTC clinical isolate, and to better analyze the links between its current spreading and previous evolutionary history. The building and mining of extended MTC polymorphic genetic databases is in progress.
PMCID: PMC1468417  PMID: 16519816
19.  Discriminatory Power and Reproducibility of Novel DNA Typing Methods for Mycobacterium tuberculosis Complex Strains 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2005;43(11):5628-5638.
In recent years various novel DNA typing methods have been developed which are faster and easier to perform than the current internationally standardized IS6110 restriction fragment length polymorphism typing method. However, there has been no overview of the utility of these novel typing methods, and it is largely unknown how they compare to previously published methods. In this study, the discriminative power and reproducibility of nine recently described PCR-based typing methods for Mycobacterium tuberculosis were investigated using the strain collection of the interlaboratory study of Kremer et al. (J. Clin. Microbiol. 37:2607-2618, 1999). This strain collection contains 90 M. tuberculosis complex and 10 non-M. tuberculosis complex mycobacterial strains, as well as 31 duplicated DNA samples to assess reproducibility. The highest reproducibility was found with variable numbers of tandem repeat typing using mycobacterial interspersed repetitive units (MIRU VNTR) and fast ligation-mediated PCR (FLiP), followed by second-generation spoligotyping, ligation-mediated PCR (LM-PCR), VNTR typing using five repeat loci identified at the Queens University of Belfast (QUB VNTR), and the Amadio speciation PCR. Poor reproducibility was associated with fluorescent amplified fragment length polymorphism typing, which was performed in three different laboratories. The methods were ordered from highest discrimination to lowest by the Hunter-Gaston discriminative index as follows: QUB VNTR typing, MIRU VNTR typing, FLiP, LM-PCR, and spoligotyping. We conclude that both VNTR typing methods and FLiP typing are rapid, highly reliable, and discriminative epidemiological typing methods for M. tuberculosis and that VNTR typing is the epidemiological typing method of choice for the near future.
PMCID: PMC1287774  PMID: 16272496
20.  Identification and Characterization of Genomic Variations between Mycobacterium bovis and M. tuberculosis H37Rv 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2005;43(5):2481-2484.
Genetic differences between Mycobacterium bovis and M. tuberculosis were identified. We found (i) a deletion of Rv3479 specific to M. bovis, (ii) that the rpfA gene is shortened to various extents in M. bovis, and (iii) an insertion in Rv0648 and a duplication of lppA common in M. tuberculosis complex isolates.
PMCID: PMC1153726  PMID: 15872289
21.  A Fragment of 21 ORFs Around the Direct Repeat (DR) Region of Mycobacterium tuberculosis is Absent From the Other Sequenced Mycobacterial Genomes: Implications for the Evolution of the DR Region 
The direct repeat (DR) region is a singular locus of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex genome. This region consists of 36 bp repetitive sequences separated by non-repetitive unique spacer sequences. Around this region there are several genes coding for proteins of unknown function. To determine whether the M. smegmatis, M. avium, M. marinum and M. leprae genomes contain sequences and ORFs similar to those of the DR locus of the M. tuberculosis complex, we analysed the corresponding regions in these species. As a first step, some conserved genes that flank the DR genes [Rv2785c (rpsO), Rv2786c (ribF), Rv2790c (ltp1 ), Rv2793c (truB), Rv2800, Rv2825, Rv2828, Rv2831 (echA16 ), Rv2838 (rbfA) and Rv2845 (proS )] were used as markers to locate the corresponding orthologues in M. smegmatis, M. avium, M. marinum and M. leprae in silico. Most of these M. tuberculosis marker genes have highly similar orthologues located in the same order and orientation in the other mycobacteria. In contrast, no orthologues were found for ORFs Rv2801–Rv2824, suggesting that these genes are unique to M. tuberculosis within the genus Mycobacterium.We observed that in M. smegmatis and M. avium, Rv2800 and Rv2825 are adjacent. This observation was experimentally confirmed by PCR. In conclusion, as the DR locus and the ORFs around it are absent in M. smegmatis and M. avium and, as it is possible that these species are older than M. tuberculosis, we postulated that the DR locus was acquired by the M. tuberculosis complex species or by an ancestor bacterium.
PMCID: PMC2447356  PMID: 18629072
22.  The Mycobacterium tuberculosis Recombinant 27-Kilodalton Lipoprotein Induces a Strong Th1-Type Immune Response Deleterious to Protection  
Infection and Immunity  2003;71(6):3146-3154.
Th1 immune response is essential in the protection against mycobacterial intracellular pathogens. Lipoproteins trigger both humoral and cellular immune responses and may be candidate protective antigens. We studied in BALB/c mice the immunogenicity and the protection offered by the recombinant 27-kDa Mycobacterium tuberculosis lipoprotein and the corresponding DNA vaccine. Immunization with the 27-kDa antigen resulted in high titers of immunoglobulin G1 (IgG1) and IgG2a with a typical Th1 profile and a strong delayed hypersensitivity response. A strong proliferation response was observed in splenocytes, and significant nitric oxide production and gamma interferon secretion but not interleukin 10 secretion were measured. Based on these criteria, the 27-kDa antigen induced a typical Th1-type immune response thought to be necessary for protection. Surprisingly, in 27-kDa-vaccinated mice (protein or DNA vaccines) challenged by M. tuberculosis H37Rv or BCG strains, there was a significant increase in the numbers of CFU in the spleen compared to that for control groups. Furthermore, the protection provided by BCG or other mycobacterial antigens was completely abolished once the 27-kDa antigen was added to the vaccine preparations. This study indicates that the 27-kDa antigen has an adverse effect on the protection afforded by recognized vaccines. We are currently studying how the 27-kDa antigen modulates the mouse immune response.
PMCID: PMC155707  PMID: 12761093
23.  Snapshot of Moving and Expanding Clones of Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Their Global Distribution Assessed by Spoligotyping in an International Study†  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2003;41(5):1963-1970.
The present update on the global distribution of Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex spoligotypes provides both the octal and binary descriptions of the spoligotypes for M. tuberculosis complex, including Mycobacterium bovis, from >90 countries (13,008 patterns grouped into 813 shared types containing 11,708 isolates and 1,300 orphan patterns). A number of potential indices were developed to summarize the information on the biogeographical specificity of a given shared type, as well as its geographical spreading (matching code and spreading index, respectively). To facilitate the analysis of hundreds of spoligotypes each made up of a binary succession of 43 bits of information, a number of major and minor visual rules were also defined. A total of six major rules (A to F) with the precise description of the extra missing spacers (minor rules) were used to define 36 major clades (or families) of M. tuberculosis. Some major clades identified were the East African-Indian (EAI) clade, the Beijing clade, the Haarlem clade, the Latin American and Mediterranean (LAM) clade, the Central Asian (CAS) clade, a European clade of IS6110 low banders (X; highly prevalent in the United States and United Kingdom), and a widespread yet poorly defined clade (T). When the visual rules defined above were used for an automated labeling of the 813 shared types to define nine superfamilies of strains (Mycobacterium africanum, Beijing, M. bovis, EAI, CAS, T, Haarlem, X, and LAM), 96.9% of the shared types received a label, showing the potential for automated labeling of M. tuberculosis families in well-defined phylogeographical families. Intercontinental matches of shared types among eight continents and subcontinents (Africa, North America, Central America, South America, Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia, and the Far East) are analyzed and discussed.
PMCID: PMC154710  PMID: 12734235
24.  Global Distribution of Mycobacterium tuberculosis Spoligotypes 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2002;8(11):1347-1349.
We present a short summary of recent observations on the global distribution of the major clades of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex, the causative agent of tuberculosis. This global distribution was defined by data-mining of an international spoligotyping database, SpolDB3. This database contains 11,708 patterns from as many clinical isolates originating from more than 90 countries. The 11,708 spoligotypes were clustered into 813 shared types. A total of 1,300 orphan patterns (clinical isolates showing a unique spoligotype) were also detected.
PMCID: PMC2738532  PMID: 12453368
Mycobacterium tuberculosis; spoligotyping
25.  Characterization of P55, a Multidrug Efflux Pump in Mycobacterium bovis and Mycobacterium tuberculosis 
The Mycobacterium bovis P55 gene, located downstream from the gene that encodes the immunogenic lipoprotein P27, has been characterized. The gene was identical to the open reading frame of the Rv1410c gene in the genome of Mycobacterium tuberculosis H37Rv, annotated as a probable drug efflux protein. Genes similar to P55 were present in all species of the M. tuberculosis complex and other mycobacteria such as Mycobacterium leprae and Mycobacterium avium. By Western blotting, P55 was located in the membrane fraction of M. bovis. When transformed into Mycobacterium smegmatis after cloning, P55 conferred aminoglycoside and tetracycline resistance. The levels of resistance to streptomycin and tetracycline conferred by P55 were decreased in the presence of the protonophore carbonyl cyanide m-chlorophenylhydrazone and the pump inhibitors verapamil and reserpine. M. smegmatis cells expressing the plasmid-encoded P55 accumulated less tetracycline than the control cells. We conclude that P55 is a membrane protein implicated in aminoglycoside and tetracycline efflux in mycobacteria.
PMCID: PMC90377  PMID: 11181364

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