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1.  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
2.  Predominance of Ancestral Lineages of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in India 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2006;12(9):1367-1374.
Molecular epidemiologic findings suggest an ancient focus of TB.
Although India has the highest prevalence of tuberculosis (TB) worldwide, the genetic diversity of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in India is largely unknown. A collection of 91 isolates originating from 12 different regions spread across the country were analyzed by genotyping using 21 loci with variable-number tandem repeats (VNTRs), by spoligotyping, by principal genetic grouping (PGG), and by deletion analysis of M. tuberculosis–specific deletion region 1. The isolates showed highly diverse VNTR genotypes. Nevertheless, highly congruent groupings identified by using the 4 independent sets of markers permitted a clear definition of 3 prevalent PGG1 lineages, which corresponded to the "ancestral" East African–Indian, the Delhi, and the Beijing/W genogroups. A few isolates from PGG2 lineages and a single representative of the presumably most recent PGG3 were identified. These observations suggest a predominance of ancestral M. tuberculosis genotypes in the Indian subcontinent, which supports the hypothesis that India is an ancient endemic focus of TB.
PMCID: PMC3294724  PMID: 17073085
tuberculosis; Mycobacterium tuberculosis; VNTR; spoligotyping; single nucleotide polymorphism; molecular epidemiology
4.  Ancient Origin and Gene Mosaicism of the Progenitor of Mycobacterium tuberculosis  
PLoS Pathogens  2005;1(1):e5.
The highly successful human pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis has an extremely low level of genetic variation, which suggests that the entire population resulted from clonal expansion following an evolutionary bottleneck around 35,000 y ago. Here, we show that this population constitutes just the visible tip of a much broader progenitor species, whose extant representatives are human isolates of tubercle bacilli from East Africa. In these isolates, we detected incongruence among gene phylogenies as well as mosaic gene sequences, whose individual elements are retrieved in classical M. tuberculosis. Therefore, despite its apparent homogeneity, the M. tuberculosis genome appears to be a composite assembly resulting from horizontal gene transfer events predating clonal expansion. The amount of synonymous nucleotide variation in housekeeping genes suggests that tubercle bacilli were contemporaneous with early hominids in East Africa, and have thus been coevolving with their human host much longer than previously thought. These results open novel perspectives for unraveling the molecular bases of M. tuberculosis evolutionary success.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the agent of tuberculosis, is a highly successful human pathogen and kills nearly 3 million persons each year. This pathogen and its close relatives sum up in a single and compact clonal group dating back only a few tens of thousands of years. Using genetic data, the researchers have discovered that human tubercle bacilli from East Africa represent extant bacteria of a much broader progenitor species from which the M. tuberculosis clonal group evolved. They estimate that this progenitor species is as old as 3 million years. This suggests that our remote hominid ancestors may well have already suffered from tuberculosis. In addition, the researchers show that tubercle bacilli are able to exchange parts of their genome with other strains, a process that is known to play a crucial role in adaptation of pathogens to their hosts. Thus, the M. tuberculosis genome appears to be a composite assembly, resulting from ancient horizontal DNA exchanges before its clonal expansion. These findings open novel perspectives for unraveling the origin and the molecular bases of M. tuberculosis evolutionary success, and lead to reconsideration of the impact of tuberculosis on human natural selection.
PMCID: PMC1238740  PMID: 16201017
5.  Use of the INNO-LiPA-MYCOBACTERIA Assay (Version 2) for Identification of Mycobacterium avium-Mycobacterium intracellulare-Mycobacterium scrofulaceum Complex Isolates 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2005;43(6):2567-2574.
Using INNO-LiPA-MYCOBACTERIA (Lipav1; Innogenetics) and the AccuProbe (Gen-Probe Inc./bioMérieux) techniques, 35 Mycobacterium avium-Mycobacterium intracellulare-Mycobacterium scrofulaceum (MAC/MAIS) complex strains were identified between January 2000 and December 2002. Thirty-four of 35 isolates were positive only for the MAIS complex probe by Lipav1 and were further analyzed by INNO-LiPA-MYCOBACTERIA version 2 (Lipav2), hsp65 PCR restriction pattern analysis (PRA), and ribosomal internal transcribed spacer (ITS), hsp65, and 16S rRNA sequences. Lipav2 identified 14 of 34 strains at the species level, including 11 isolates positive for the newly specific MAC sequevar Mac-A probe (MIN-2 probe). Ten of these 11 isolates corresponded to sequevar Mac-A, which was recently defined as Mycobacterium chimerae sp. nov. Among the last 20 of the 34 MAIS isolates, 17 (by hsp65 PRA) and 18 (by hsp65 sequence) were characterized as M. avium. Ten of the 20 were identified as Mac-U sequevar. All these 20 isolates were identified as M. intracellulare by 16S rRNA sequence except one isolate identified as Mycobacterium paraffinicum by 16S rRNA and ITS sequencing. One isolate out of 35 isolates that was positive for M. avium by AccuProbe and that was Mycobacterium genus probe positive and MAIS probe negative by Lipav1 and Lipav2 might be considered a new species. In conclusion, the new INNO-LiPA-MYCOBACTERIA allowed the identification of 40% of the previously unidentified MAIS isolates at the species level. The results of the Lipav2 assay on the MAIS isolates confirm the great heterogeneity of this group and suggest the use of hsp65 or ITS sequencing for precise identification of such isolates.
PMCID: PMC1151901  PMID: 15956365
6.  Mycobacterium africanum Genotyping Using Novel Spacer Oligonucleotides in the Direct Repeat Locus 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2004;42(11):5053-5057.
This study involves a first evaluation of 25 novel spacer oligonucleotides in addition to the 43 routine spacers for molecular characterization of a panel of 65 isolates of tubercle bacilli from different geographic origins that were initially classified as Mycobacterium africanum based on phenotypic characters. The 68-spacer format defined four additional patterns, and three groups were identified. The relatively homogeneous groups A1 and A2 included strains from West Africa, and A3-1 included strains from East Africa. The presence of deletion region RD9 confirmed the reclassification of the M. africanum subtype II spoligopattern within group A3-1 as Mycobacterium tuberculosis. These isolates may represent a diverging branch of M. tuberculosis in Africa. The use of new spacers also suggested an undergoing evolution of M. africanum subtype I in West Africa. Our results showed that the strain differentiation within the M. tuberculosis complex is improved by using novel spacers, and extensive studies using new-generation spoligotyping may be helpful to better understand the evolution of M. africanum.
PMCID: PMC525283  PMID: 15528695
7.  Molecular Characteristics of Strains of the Cameroon Family, the Major Group of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in a Country with a High Prevalence of Tuberculosis 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2004;42(11):5029-5035.
A preliminary investigation of the genetic biodiversity of Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex strains in Cameroon, a country with a high prevalence of tuberculosis, described a group of closely related M. tuberculosis strains (the Cameroon family) currently responsible for more than 40% of smear-positive pulmonary tuberculosis cases. Here, we used various molecular methods to study the genetic characteristics of this family of strains. Cameroon family M. tuberculosis strains (i) are part of the major genetic group 2 and lack the TbD1 region like other families of epidemic strains, (ii) lack spacers 23, 24, and 25 in their direct repeat (DR) region, (iii) have an identical number of repeats in 8 of 12 variable-number tandem repeats of mycobacterial interspersed repetitive unit (MIRU-VNTR) loci, (iv) have similar IS6110-restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) multiband patterns (10 to 15 copies) with seven common IS6110 bands, (v) do not have an IS6110 element in their DR locus, and (vi) have four IS6110 elements in open reading frames (adenylate cyclase, phospholipase C, moeY, and ATP binding genes). Analysis by spoligotyping, MIRU-VNTR, and IS6110-RFLP typing methods revealed differences not observed in previous studies; polymorphism as assessed by MIRU-VNTR typing was lower than suggested by spoligotyping, and in rare cases, strains with identical IS6110-RFLP patterns had spoligotypes differing by as much as 15 spacers. Our findings confirm the recent expansion of this family in Cameroon and indicate that the interpretation of molecular typing results has to be adapted to the characteristics of the strain population within each setting. The knowledge of this particular genotype, with its large involvement in tuberculosis in Cameroon, allows greater refinement of tuberculosis transmission studies by interpreting data in the context of this geographic area.
PMCID: PMC525220  PMID: 15528691
9.  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
10.  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
11.  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
12.  Comparative Evaluation of Ligation-Mediated PCR and Spoligotyping as Screening Methods for Genotyping of Mycobacterium tuberculosis Strains 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1999;37(10):3118-3123.
Spoligotyping has been suggested as a screening test in multistep genotyping of Mycobacterium tuberculosis strains. Relying on restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis with IS6110 (IS6110 RFLP analysis) as a “gold standard,” we performed a comparative evaluation of spoligotyping and ligation-mediated PCR (LMPCR), a recently described PCR-based typing method, as rapid screening tests for fingerprinting of 158 M. tuberculosis strains collected in Verona, Italy. LMPCR seemed to be comparable to spoligotyping in terms both of feasibility with rapidly extracted DNA and of generation of software-analyzable images. Moreover, LMPCR grouped considerably fewer strains than spoligotyping (38 versus 67%) and was found to reduce the cluster overestimation rate (26.3 versus 58%) and to give a better discriminatory index (0.992 versus 0.970) compared to spoligotyping. In our geographical region, where there was no evidence of clustered strains carrying fewer than six IS6110 copies, LMPCR was found to be more discriminatory than spoligotyping. We also evaluated two models of three-step typing strategies, involving the use of spoligotyping and LMPCR as screening methods and IS6110 RFLP analysis as a further supporting test. LMPCR proved to be a more effective first-step test than spoligotyping, significantly reducing the need for subtyping. LMPCR should be considered an alternative to spoligotyping as a rapid screening method for M. tuberculosis fingerprinting, particularly in areas with a low prevalence of M. tuberculosis strains carrying few copies of IS6110.
PMCID: PMC85507  PMID: 10488164

Results 1-12 (12)