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1.  Characterization of Mycobacterium bovis from Humans and Cattle in Namwala District, Zambia 
Tuberculosis remains a major public health problem in Zambia. While human to human transmission of Mycobacterium tuberculosis is of major importance in driving the tuberculosis epidemic, the impact of Mycobacterium bovis transmission from infected cattle is largely unknown. This cross-sectional study aimed at molecular characterization of M. bovis in humans and cattle. A total of 100 human sputum samples and 67 bovine tissues were collected and analyzed for the presence of mycobacteria. Of 65 human samples that harbored acid fast bacteria (AFB), 55 isolates were obtained of which 34 were identified as M. tuberculosis and 2 as M. bovis. AFB-positive bovine samples (n = 67) yielded 47 mycobacterial isolates among which 25 were identified as M. bovis and no M. tuberculosis was found. Among the M. bovis isolates, spoligotyping revealed a high homogeneity in genotypes circulating in Namwala district. Human and cattle isolates shared identical MIRU-VNTR genotypes, suggesting that transmission between the two hosts may occur. Therefore, this study has documented zoonotic TB in human patients in Namwala district of Zambia. However, further molecular epidemiological studies in the study area are recommended.
PMCID: PMC4009325  PMID: 24847441
2.  Entrance and Survival of Brucella pinnipedialis Hooded Seal Strain in Human Macrophages and Epithelial Cells 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e84861.
Marine mammal Brucella spp. have been isolated from pinnipeds (B. pinnipedialis) and cetaceans (B. ceti) from around the world. Although the zoonotic potential of marine mammal brucellae is largely unknown, reports of human disease exist. There are few studies of the mechanisms of bacterial intracellular invasion and multiplication involving the marine mammal Brucella spp. We examined the infective capacity of two genetically different B. pinnipedialis strains (reference strain; NTCT 12890 and a hooded seal isolate; B17) by measuring the ability of the bacteria to enter and replicate in cultured phagocytes and epithelial cells. Human macrophage-like cells (THP-1), two murine macrophage cell lines (RAW264.7 and J774A.1), and a human malignant epithelial cell line (HeLa S3) were challenged with bacteria in a gentamicin protection assay. Our results show that B. pinnipedialis is internalized, but is then gradually eliminated during the next 72 – 96 hours. Confocal microscopy revealed that intracellular B. pinnipedialis hooded seal strain colocalized with lysosomal compartments at 1.5 and 24 hours after infection. Intracellular presence of B. pinnipedialis hooded seal strain was verified by transmission electron microscopy. By using a cholesterol-scavenging lipid inhibitor, entrance of B. pinnipedialis hooded seal strain in human macrophages was significantly reduced by 65.8 % (± 17.3), suggesting involvement of lipid-rafts in intracellular entry. Murine macrophages invaded by B. pinnipedialis do not release nitric oxide (NO) and intracellular bacterial presence does not induce cell death. In summary, B. pinnipedialis hooded seal strain can enter human and murine macrophages, as well as human epithelial cells. Intracellular entry of B. pinnipedialis hooded seal strain involves, but seems not to be limited to, lipid-rafts in human macrophages. Brucella pinnipedialis does not multiply or survive for prolonged periods intracellulary.
PMCID: PMC3869908  PMID: 24376851
3.  Unexpected Brucella suis Biovar 2 Infection in a Dairy Cow, Belgium 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2013;19(12):2053-2054.
PMCID: PMC3840864  PMID: 24274041
Brucella suis biovar 2; Brucella suis; brucellosis; cattle; wild boar; hunting; biosecurity; cow; Belgium; bacteria; bovine
4.  Entry and Elimination of Marine Mammal Brucella spp. by Hooded Seal (Cystophora cristata) Alveolar Macrophages In Vitro 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e70186.
A high prevalence of Brucellapinnipedialis serology and bacteriology positive animals has been found in the Northeast Atlantic stock of hooded seal (Cystophoracristata); however no associated gross pathological changes have been identified. Marine mammal brucellae have previously displayed different infection patterns in human and murine macrophages. To investigate if marine mammal Brucella spp. are able to invade and multiply in cells originating from a presumed host species, we infected alveolar macrophages from hooded seal with a B. pinnipedialis hooded seal isolate. Hooded seal alveolar macrophages were also challenged with B. pinnipedialis reference strain (NCTC 12890) from harbor seal (Phocavitulina), B. ceti reference strain (NCTC 12891) from harbor porpoise (Phocoenaphocoena) and a B. ceti Atlantic white-sided dolphin (Lagenorhynchusacutus) isolate (M83/07/1), to evaluate possible species-specific differences. Brucella suis 1330 was included as a positive control. Alveolar macrophages were obtained by post mortem bronchoalveolar lavage of euthanized hooded seals. Phenotyping of cells in the lavage fluid was executed by flow cytometry using the surface markers CD14 and CD18. Cultured lavage cells were identified as alveolar macrophages based on morphology, expression of surface markers and phagocytic ability. Alveolar macrophages were challenged with Brucella spp. in a gentamicin protection assay. Following infection, cell lysates from different time points were plated and evaluated quantitatively for colony forming units. Intracellular presence of B. pinnipedialis hooded seal isolate was verified by immunocytochemistry. Our results show that the marine mammal brucellae were able to enter hooded seal alveolar macrophages; however, they did not multiply intracellularly and were eliminated within 48 hours, to the contrary of B. suis that showed the classical pattern of a pathogenic strain. In conclusion, none of the four marine mammal strains tested were able to establish a persistent infection in primary alveolar macrophages from hooded seal.
PMCID: PMC3723690  PMID: 23936159
5.  A review of tuberculosis at the wildlife-livestock-human interface in Zambia 
Zambia’s estimated incidence of all forms of human tuberculosis (TB) is 707/100,000. High prevalence of bovine tuberculosis (BTB) – infection with Mycobacterium bovis – in cattle and the Kafue lechwe antelopes (Kobus leche Kafuensis) has been reported in the Kafue basin. Consumption of unpasteurised milk and meat products from infected animals poses a risk of transmitting zoonotic tuberculosis to people living at the human-animal interface. Despite the reported high prevalence of BTB in both livestock and wildlife, information on the proportion of human patients infected with M. bovis is unknown in Zambia. This paper reviews the available information in English on human, livestock and wildlife TB in Zambia with the purpose of assessing the burden of animal infections with M. tuberculosis complex and its public health implications.
PMCID: PMC3734204  PMID: 23849550
Bovine tuberculosis; Kafue lechwe; Interface; Zoonotic tuberculosis
6.  Molecular Epidemiology, Drug Susceptibility and Economic Aspects of Tuberculosis in Mubende District, Uganda 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e64745.
Tuberculosis (TB) remains a global public health problem whose effects have major impact in developing countries like Uganda. This study aimed at investigating genotypic characteristics and drug resistance profiles of Mycobacterium tuberculosis isolated from suspected TB patients. Furthermore, risk factors and economic burdens that could affect the current control strategies were studied.
TB suspected patients were examined in a cross-sectional study at the Mubende regional referral hospital between February and July 2011. A questionnaire was administered to each patient to obtain information associated with TB prevalence. Isolates of M. tuberculosis recovered during sampling were examined for drug resistance to first line anti-TB drugs using the BACTEC-MGIT960TMsystem. All isolates were further characterized using deletion analysis, spoligotyping and MIRU-VNTR analysis. Data were analyzed using different software; MIRU-VNTR plus, SITVITWEB, BioNumerics and multivariable regression models.
M. tuberculosis was isolated from 74 out of 344 patients, 48 of these were co-infected with HIV. Results from the questionnaire showed that previously treated TB, co-infection with HIV, cigarette smoking, and overcrowding were risk factors associated with TB, while high medical related transport bills were identified as an economic burden. Out of the 67 isolates that gave interpretable results, 23 different spoligopatterns were detected, nine of which were novel patterns. T2 with the sub types Uganda-I and Uganda-II was the most predominant lineage detected. Antibiotic resistance was detected in 19% and multidrug resistance was detected in 3% of the isolates.
The study detected M. tuberculosis from 21% of examined TB patients, 62% of whom were also HIV positive. There is a heterogeneous pool of genotypes that circulate in this area, with the T2 lineage being the most predominant. High medical related transport bills and drug resistance could undermine the usefulness of the current TB strategic interventions.
PMCID: PMC3669366  PMID: 23741382
7.  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
8.  Non-tuberculous mycobacteria isolated from slaughter pigs in Mubende district, Uganda 
The importance of infections caused by non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) in animals and humans has gained considerable recognition during the past few years. In the developed world, where pig production is extensively practiced, studies on mycobacterial infections and related control strategies have received increasing attention. The infections are reported to be caused by a wide spectrum of NTM. Unfortunately, these infections have been less recognized in sub-Saharan Africa owing to lack of awareness and systematic studies. In this study we aimed at isolating and identifying species of mycobacteria involved in causing infections in slaughter pigs in Mubende district of Uganda. Furthermore we wanted to identify factors associated with infection prevalence in the study area.
A total of 363 lymph nodes were collected and cultured for the presence of mycobacteria. Isolates were identified by 16S rDNA gene sequencing. A questionnaire survey was administered to identify production related factors associated with infection prevalence. Data were assembled and analysed using descriptive statistics and mixed effects logistic regression analysis.
Mycobacteria were detected in 39 % (143/363) of the examined lymph nodes, 63 % (59/93) of lymph nodes with gross lesions typical of mycobacteriosis and 31% (84/270) of lymph nodes with no visible lesions. Nineteen per cent of the isolated mycobacteria were identified as Mycobacterium (M) avium, of these 78% and 22% were M. avium sub sp. Hominissuis and avium respectively. Other mycobacterial species included M. senuense (16%), M. terrae (7%) and M. asiaticum (6%). This study found free range systems (OR = 3.0; P = 0.034) and use of water from valley dams (OR = 2.0; P = 0.049) as factors associated with high prevalence of mycobacteria in slaughter pigs.
This study demonstrated a high prevalence of NTM infections among slaughter pigs in Mubende district of Uganda. M. avium was the most prevalent of all NTM isolated and identified. Free range system of pig management and valley dam water were the most significant factors associated with NTM prevalence in Mubende district. These findings could be of a major public health concern given that it is in a predominantly pork consuming population with 18% HIV/AIDS prevalence. Therefore, stringent post-mortem inspection at the slaughter houses is of paramount importance to reduce human exposure.
PMCID: PMC3490772  PMID: 22564290
9.  Nucleotide Polymorphism-Based Single-Tube Test for Robust Molecular Identification of All Currently Described Brucella Species▿ † 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2011;77(18):6674-6679.
Among the numerous molecular methods described during the last 20 years to identify Brucella, multiplexed amplification methods offer the cheapest and simplest technical solution for molecular identification. However, one disadvantage of such methods is their need to undergo technical revalidation each time a new marker is added to the system. Moreover, polymorphic markers cannot be assessed at the single-nucleotide level in these assays. Since new Brucella species are continuously being described, open methodologies able to accommodate new markers while preserving all other system parameters have an obvious advantage. We present a ligase chain reaction (LCR)-based method that simultaneously assesses multiple genetic markers at the single-nucleotide level. Most of the selected markers originate from a multilocus sequence typing (MLST) database that has been extensively validated on hundreds of different Brucella strains. When assayed on both reference and field strains, the method yields characteristic capillary electrophoresis profiles for each of the 10 Brucella species described to date and displays discriminatory potential below the species level for some. Since the LCR methodology is insensitive to interference resulting from the use of multiple oligonucleotides in a single mixture, the way is open for smooth future updates of the proposed system. Such updates are inevitable, given the pending description of new Brucella species.
PMCID: PMC3187137  PMID: 21803907
10.  Failure to detect tuberculosis in Black lechwe antelopes (Kobus leche smithemani) in Zambia 
BMC Research Notes  2011;4:233.
Two types of lechwe antelopes exclusively exist in their natural ecosystems in Zambia; the Black lechwe (Kobus leche smithemani) and the Kafue lechwe (Kobus leche kafuensis). Despite inhabiting similar ecosystems, tuberculosis has been reported in Kafue lechwe without its documentation in Black lechwe antelopes. However, the past few decades have seen a drastic decline in both lechwe populations. Whereas studies have postulated that infectious diseases such as tuberculosis are having a negative impact on the Kafue lechwe population, no information is available on Black lechwe antelopes. Thus this study was conducted to investigate tuberculosis in Black lechwe antelopes of the Bangweulu swamps in comparison with the Kafue lechwe antelopes of Lochinvar.
A total of 44 lechwe antelopes (Black (n = 30): Kafue (n = 14) were sampled from Bangweulu and Lochinvar respectively. A positive case was defined with findings of gross lesions with Ziehl Nielsen and culture confirmation. Out of the 14 animals examined in Lochinvar, 21.4% [95% CI: 15.4, 44.4%] had necropsy lesions consistent with tuberculosis. The corresponding samples from 30 Black lechwe of Bangweulu yielded negative results on all the three tests.
Current findings from this study intimate the possible absence of tuberculosis in Black lechwe antelopes whilst confirming the presence of tuberculosis in Kafue lechwe of the Kafue basin. The absence of tuberculosis in the Black lechwe suggests that the observed population decline may not be caused by tuberculosis. However, without detailed molecular epidemiological studies it is not possible to determine the association of M. bovis infection in sympatric animal populations. The possible role of transmission of tuberculosis between wildlife and cattle is discussed herein. Findings
PMCID: PMC3141523  PMID: 21729320
11.  A review of Brucella infection in marine mammals, with special emphasis on Brucella pinnipedialis in the hooded seal (Cystophora cristata) 
Veterinary Research  2011;42(1):93.
Brucella spp. were isolated from marine mammals for the first time in 1994. Two novel species were later included in the genus; Brucella ceti and Brucella pinnipedialis, with cetaceans and seals as their preferred hosts, respectively. Brucella spp. have since been isolated from a variety of marine mammals. Pathological changes, including lesions of the reproductive organs and associated abortions, have only been registered in cetaceans. The zoonotic potential differs among the marine mammal Brucella strains. Many techniques, both classical typing and molecular microbiology, have been utilised for characterisation of the marine mammal Brucella spp. and the change from the band-based approaches to the sequence-based approaches has greatly increased our knowledge about these strains. Several clusters have been identified within the B. ceti and B. pinnipedialis species, and multiple studies have shown that the hooded seal isolates differ from other pinniped isolates. We describe how different molecular methods have contributed to species identification and differentiation of B. ceti and B. pinnipedialis, with special emphasis on the hooded seal isolates. We further discuss the potential role of B. pinnipedialis for the declining Northwest Atlantic hooded seal population.
PMCID: PMC3161862  PMID: 21819589
12.  Brucella ceti Infection in Harbor Porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2010;16(12):1966-1968.
We describe Brucella sp. infection and associated lesions in a harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) found on the coast of Belgium. The infection was diagnosed by immunohistochemistry, transmission electron microscopy, and bacteriology, and the organism was identified as B. ceti. The infection’s location in the porpoise raises questions of abortion and zoonotic risks.
PMCID: PMC3294555  PMID: 21122233
Bacteria; zoonoses; Brucella ceti; cetaceans; harbor porpoise; brucellosis; dispatch
13.  Genomic comparisons of Brucella spp. and closely related bacteria using base compositional and proteome based methods 
Classification of bacteria within the genus Brucella has been difficult due in part to considerable genomic homogeneity between the different species and biovars, in spite of clear differences in phenotypes. Therefore, many different methods have been used to assess Brucella taxonomy. In the current work, we examine 32 sequenced genomes from genus Brucella representing the six classical species, as well as more recently described species, using bioinformatical methods. Comparisons were made at the level of genomic DNA using oligonucleotide based methods (Markov chain based genomic signatures, genomic codon and amino acid frequencies based comparisons) and proteomes (all-against-all BLAST protein comparisons and pan-genomic analyses).
We found that the oligonucleotide based methods gave different results compared to that of the proteome based methods. Differences were also found between the oligonucleotide based methods used. Whilst the Markov chain based genomic signatures grouped the different species in genus Brucella according to host preference, the codon and amino acid frequencies based methods reflected small differences between the Brucella species. Only minor differences could be detected between all genera included in this study using the codon and amino acid frequencies based methods.
Proteome comparisons were found to be in strong accordance with current Brucella taxonomy indicating a remarkable association between gene gain or loss on one hand and mutations in marker genes on the other. The proteome based methods found greater similarity between Brucella species and Ochrobactrum species than between species within genus Agrobacterium compared to each other. In other words, proteome comparisons of species within genus Agrobacterium were found to be more diverse than proteome comparisons between species in genus Brucella and genus Ochrobactrum. Pan-genomic analyses indicated that uptake of DNA from outside genus Brucella appears to be limited.
While both the proteome based methods and the Markov chain based genomic signatures were able to reflect environmental diversity between the different species and strains of genus Brucella, the genomic codon and amino acid frequencies based comparisons were not found adequate for such comparisons. The proteome comparison based phylogenies of the species in genus Brucella showed a surprising consistency with current Brucella taxonomy.
PMCID: PMC2928237  PMID: 20707916
14.  Diagnosis of Brucellosis in Livestock and Wildlife 
Croatian Medical Journal  2010;51(4):296-305.
To describe and discuss the merits of various direct and indirect methods applied in vitro (mainly on blood or milk) or in vivo (allergic test) for the diagnosis of brucellosis in animals.
The recent literature on brucellosis diagnostic tests was reviewed. These diagnostic tests are applied with different goals, such as national screening, confirmatory diagnosis, certification, and international trade. The validation of such diagnostic tests is still an issue, particularly in wildlife. The choice of the testing strategy depends on the prevailing brucellosis epidemiological situation and the goal of testing.
Measuring the kinetics of antibody production after Brucella spp. infection is essential for analyzing serological results correctly and may help to predict abortion. Indirect ELISAs help to discriminate 1) between false positive serological reactions and true brucellosis and 2) between vaccination and infection. Biotyping of Brucella spp. provides valuable epidemiological information that allows tracing an infection back to the sources in instances where several biotypes of a given Brucella species are circulating. Polymerase chain reaction and new molecular methods are likely to be used as routine typing and fingerprinting methods in the coming years.
The diagnosis of brucellosis in livestock and wildlife is complex and serological results need to be carefully analyzed. The B. abortus S19 and B. melitensis Rev. 1 vaccines are the cornerstones of control programs in cattle and small ruminants, respectively. There is no vaccine available for pigs or for wildlife. In the absence of a human brucellosis vaccine, prevention of human brucellosis depends on the control of the disease in animals.
PMCID: PMC2931434  PMID: 20718082
15.  Experimental Infection of Reindeer with Cervid Herpesvirus 2▿  
Clinical and Vaccine Immunology : CVI  2009;16(12):1758-1765.
Cervid herpesvirus 2 (CvHV2) has been isolated from reindeer (Rangifer tarandus tarandus), and serological data indicate that in reindeer this virus is endemic in Fennoscandia, Alaska, Canada, and Greenland. CvHV2 has been described as a cause of subclinical genital infections in reindeer, but little information on primary infections exists. In this study, six seronegative and presumably pregnant reindeer were allocated to one of two groups. Two animals were inoculated with CvHV2 intratracheally, and two animals intravaginally, with one control animal in each group receiving sterile water. Mild hyperthermia and serous discharges from the vagina and nose were observed. No abortions were recorded, but one calf died shortly after birth. Inoculated animals seroconverted and had neutralizing antibodies after days 7 to 10 postinfection. CvHV2 was detected by PCR in nasal and vaginal swabs from animals in both groups but could be isolated only from nasal swabs in the respiratory group and from vaginal swabs in the genital group. CvHV2 was detected by PCR in various organs and tissues postmortem. In control animals, the virus could not be isolated in spite of PCR-positive nasal and vaginal swab samples and some degree of positive immunostaining. One of the animals that were inoculated intratracheally developed a hemorrhagic, necrotizing bronchopneumonia, which was CvHV2 positive by PCR and immunohistochemistry. We conclude that CvHV2 can cause systemic infection, that both genital and respiratory inoculations can lead to virus shedding, and that the virus can infect the fetus in utero.
PMCID: PMC2786388  PMID: 19846680
16.  MLVA-16 typing of 295 marine mammal Brucella isolates from different animal and geographic origins identifies 7 major groups within Brucella ceti and Brucella pinnipedialis 
BMC Microbiology  2009;9:145.
Since 1994, Brucella strains have been isolated from a wide range of marine mammals. They are currently recognized as two new Brucella species, B. pinnipedialis for the pinniped isolates and B. ceti for the cetacean isolates in agreement with host preference and specific phenotypic and molecular markers. In order to investigate the genetic relationships within the marine mammal Brucella isolates and with reference to terrestrial mammal Brucella isolates, we applied in this study the Multiple Loci VNTR (Variable Number of Tandem Repeats) Analysis (MLVA) approach. A previously published assay comprising 16 loci (MLVA-16) that has been shown to be highly relevant and efficient for typing and clustering Brucella strains from animal and human origin was used.
294 marine mammal Brucella strains collected in European waters from 173 animals and a human isolate from New Zealand presumably from marine origin were investigated by MLVA-16. Marine mammal Brucella isolates were shown to be different from the recognized terrestrial mammal Brucella species and biovars and corresponded to 3 major related groups, one specific of the B. ceti strains, one of the B. pinnipedialis strains and the last composed of the human isolate. In the B. ceti group, 3 subclusters were identified, distinguishing a cluster of dolphin, minke whale and porpoise isolates and two clusters mostly composed of dolphin isolates. These results were in accordance with published analyses using other phenotypic or molecular approaches, or different panels of VNTR loci. The B. pinnipedialis group could be similarly subdivided in 3 subclusters, one composed exclusively of isolates from hooded seals (Cystophora cristata) and the two others comprising other seal species isolates.
The clustering analysis of a large collection of marine mammal Brucella isolates from European waters significantly strengthens the current view of the population structure of these two species, and their relative position with respect to the rest of the Brucella genus. MLVA-16 is confirmed as being a rapid, highly discriminatory and reproducible method to classify Brucella strains including the marine mammal isolates. The Brucella2009 MLVA-16 genotyping database available at is providing a detailed coverage of all 9 currently recognized Brucella species.
PMCID: PMC2719651  PMID: 19619320
18.  Evaluation of the Epidemiological Relevance of Variable-Number Tandem-Repeat Genotyping of Mycobacterium bovis and Comparison of the Method with IS6110 Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism Analysis and Spoligotyping†  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2006;44(6):1951-1962.
Sources of Mycobacterium bovis contamination remain unclear for many cases of animal and human disease. A major limitation is the lack of sufficiently informative or epidemiologically well evaluated molecular methods for typing. Here, we report an evaluation of a high-throughput method based on 29 mycobacterial interspersed repetitive unit-variable-number tandem-repeat (MIRU-VNTR) loci to genotype 127 M. bovis isolates from cattle from 77 different Belgian farms, representative of a nationwide collection obtained from 1995 to 2003. MIRU-VNTR stability was demonstrated by analyzing a series of 74 isolates in total, obtained from different animals from a single farm or from different farms with an identified epidemiological link. The genotyping results and the genotypic diversity (h) were compared with those obtained by IS6110 restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis and spoligotyping. Among 68 isolates with no known epidemiological link, MIRU-VNTR typing discriminated better than either RFLP analysis or spoligotyping, with isolates taken individually (32 versus 16 and 17 genotypes; h = 0.91 versus 0.73 and 0.85, respectively) or in combination (32 versus 28 genotypes; h = 0.91 versus 0.92). Maximal resolution was already achieved with a subset of 9 loci. The observed congruence of the genetic relationships based on IS6110 RFLP analysis, spoligotyping, and MIRU-VNTR markers is consistent with a clonal population structure of M. bovis. These results support MIRU-VNTR typing as a convenient and discriminatory technique for analysis of the population structure of M. bovis in much greater detail and for addressing some still unresolved issues in the epidemiology of the pathogen.
PMCID: PMC1489394  PMID: 16757584
19.  Members of the 30- to 32-Kilodalton Mycolyl Transferase Family (Ag85) from Culture Filtrate of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis Are Immunodominant Th1-Type Antigens Recognized Early upon Infection in Mice and Cattle  
Infection and Immunity  2006;74(1):202-212.
The characterization of protective antigens is essential for the development of an effective, subunit-based vaccine against paratuberculosis. Surface-exposed and secreted antigens, present abundantly in mycobacterial culture filtrate (CF), are among the well-known protective antigens of Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Mycobacterium bovis. Culture filtrate, prepared from Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis ATCC 19698 grown as a surface pellicle on synthetic Sauton medium, was strongly and early recognized in experimentally infected B6 bg/bg beige mice and cattle, as indicated by elevated spleen cell gamma interferon (IFN-γ) secretion and lymphoproliferative responses of peripheral blood mononuclear cells, respectively. Strong proliferative and ex vivo IFN-γ responses against antigen 85 (Ag85) complex (a major protein component from M. bovis BCG culture filtrate) could be detected in cattle as early as 10 weeks after oral M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis infection. Synthetic peptides from the Ag85A and Ag85B components of this complex were strongly recognized, whereas T-cell responses were weaker against peptides from the Ag85C protein. A promiscuous T-cell epitope spanning amino acids 145 to 162 of Ag85B (identical sequence in M. bovis and M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis) was identified in experimentally infected cattle. Finally, young calves, born from cows with confirmed paratuberculosis, demonstrated proliferative responses to purified, recombinant Ag85A and Ag85B from M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis. These results indicate that the M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis Ag85 homologues are immunodominant T-cell antigens that are recognized early in experimental and natural infection of cattle.
PMCID: PMC1346609  PMID: 16368974
20.  Definitive Differentiation between Single and Mixed Mycobacterial Infections in Red Deer (Cervus elaphus) by a Combination of Duplex Amplification of p34 and f57 Sequences and Hpy188I Enzymatic Restriction of Duplex Amplicons 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2005;43(9):4640-4648.
Severe emaciation and mortalities suggestive of mycobacterial infections were recently reported for both adult and young wild red deer (Cervus elaphus) in the southeastern part of Belgium. In deer, tuberculous lesions are not pathognomonic of Mycobacterium bovis infection due to gross and microscopic similarities with lesions caused by Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis or M. avium subsp. avium. The aim of this study was to improve molecular methods for the species-specific identification of M. bovis, M. avium subsp. avium, and M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis in mycobacterial infections of deer. DNA banding patterns were assessed prior to and after Hpy188I restriction of f57-upstream (us)-p34 duplex amplicons. The duplex f57-us-p34 PCR differentiated M. bovis from M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis and M. avium subsp. avium infections, whereas the restriction step differentiated single M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis or M. avium subsp. avium infections from mixed M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis/M. avium subsp. avium infections. The endonuclease Hpy188I cleaves DNA between nucleotides N and G in the unique TCNGA sequence. This restriction site was found at position 168 upstream of the us-p34 initiation codon in all M. avium subsp. avium strains tested, regardless of their origin and the results of IS901 PCR. In contrast, the restriction site was abrogated in all M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis strains tested, independent of their origin, Mycobactin J dependency, and IS900 PCR results. Consequently, a two-step strategy, i.e., duplex us-p34-f57 PCR and Hpy188I restriction, allowed us to exclude M. bovis infection and to identify single (M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis or M. avium subsp. avium) or mixed (M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis/M. avium subsp. avium) infections in wild red deer in Belgium. Accordingly, we propose to integrate, in a functional molecular definition of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis, the absence of the Hpy188I restriction site from the us-p34 amplicon.
PMCID: PMC1234149  PMID: 16145120
21.  The Ton System, an ABC Transporter, and a Universally Conserved GTPase Are Involved in Iron Utilization by Brucella melitensis 16M  
Infection and Immunity  2004;72(10):5783-5790.
Brucella spp. are gram-negative intracellular facultative pathogens that are known to produce 2,3-dihydroxybenzoic acid (DHBA), a catechol siderophore that is essential for full virulence in the natural host. The mechanism of DHBA entry into Brucella and other gram-negative bacteria is poorly understood. Using mini-Tn5Kmcat mutagenesis, we created a transposon library of Brucella melitensis 16M and isolated 32 mutants with a defect in iron acquisition or assimilation. Three of these transposon mutants are deficient in utilization of DHBA. Analysis of these three mutants indicated that the ExbB, DstC, and DugA proteins are required for optimal assimilation of DHBA and/or citrate. ExbB is part of the Ton complex, and DstC is a permease homologue of an iron(III) ABC transporter; in gram-negative bacteria these two complexes are involved in the uptake of iron through the outer and inner membranes, respectively. DugA is a new partner in iron utilization that exhibits homology with the bacterial conserved GTPase YchF. Based on this homology, DugA could have a putative regulatory function in iron assimilation in Brucella. None of the three mutants was attenuated in cellular models or in the mouse model of infection, which is consistent with the previous suggestion that DHBA utilization is not required in these models.
PMCID: PMC517599  PMID: 15385478
22.  Effect of omp10 or omp19 Deletion on Brucella abortus Outer Membrane Properties and Virulence in Mice  
Infection and Immunity  2002;70(10):5540-5546.
The distinctive properties of Brucella outer membrane have been considered to be critical for Brucella sp. virulence. Among the outer membrane molecules possibly related to these properties, Omp10 and Omp19 are immunoreactive outer membrane lipoproteins. Moreover, these proteins of Brucella could constitute a new family of outer membrane proteins specifically encountered in the family Rhizobiaceae. We evaluated the impact of omp10 or omp19 deletion on Brucella abortus outer membrane properties and virulence in mice. The omp10 mutant was dramatically attenuated for survival in mice and was defective for growth in minimal medium but was not impaired in intracellular growth in vitro, nor does it display clear modification of the outer membrane properties. Significantly fewer brucellae were recovered from the spleens of mice infected with the omp19 mutant than from those of mice infected with the parent strain at 4 and 8 weeks postinfection. The omp19 mutant exhibited an increase in sensitivity to the polycation polymyxin B and to sodium deoxycholate. These results indicate that inactivation of the omp19 gene alters the outer membrane properties of B. abortus.
PMCID: PMC128365  PMID: 12228280
23.  Induction of dnaK through Its Native Heat Shock Promoter Is Necessary for Intramacrophagic Replication of Brucella suis 
Infection and Immunity  2002;70(3):1631-1634.
The heat shock protein DnaK is essential for intramacrophagic replication of Brucella suis. The replacement of the stress-inducible, native dnaK promoter of B. suis by the promoter of the constitutively expressed bla gene resulted in temperature-independent synthesis of DnaK. In contrast to a dnaK null mutant, this strain grew at 37°C, with a thermal cutoff at 39°C. However, the constitutive dnaK mutant, which showed high sensitivity to H2O2-mediated stress, failed to multiply in murine macrophage-like cells and was rapidly eliminated in a mouse model of infection, adding strong arguments to our hypothesis that stress-mediated and heat shock promoter-dependent induction of dnaK is a crucial event in the intracellular replication of B. suis.
PMCID: PMC127800  PMID: 11854256
24.  Induction of Immune Response in BALB/c Mice with a DNA Vaccine Encoding Bacterioferritin or P39 of Brucella spp. 
Infection and Immunity  2001;69(10):6264-6270.
In this study, we evaluated the ability of DNA vaccines encoding the bacterioferritin (BFR) or P39 proteins of Brucella spp. to induce cellular and humoral immune responses and to protect BALB/c mice against a challenge with B. abortus 544. We constructed eukaryotic expression vectors called pCIBFR and pCIP39, encoding BFR or P39 antigens, respectively, and we verified that these proteins were produced after transfection of COS-7 cells. PCIBFR or pCIP39 was injected intramuscularly three times, at 3-week intervals. pCIP39 induced higher antibody responses than did the DNA vector encoding BFR. Both vectors elicited a T-cell-proliferative response and also induced a strong gamma interferon production upon restimulation with either the specific antigens or Brucella extract. In this report, we also demonstrat that animals immunized with these plasmids elicited a strong and long-lived memory immune response which persisted at least 3 months after the third vaccination. Furthermore, pCIBFR and pCIP39 induced a typical T-helper 1-dominated immune response in mice, as determined by cytokine or immunoglobulin G isotype analysis. The pCIP39 delivered by intramuscular injection (but not the pCIBFR or control vectors) induced a moderate protection in BALB/c mice challenged with B. abortus 544 compared to that observed in positive control mice vaccinated with S19.
PMCID: PMC98760  PMID: 11553569
25.  Aromatic Compound-Dependent Brucella suis Is Attenuated in Both Cultured Cells and Mouse Models 
Infection and Immunity  2001;69(1):547-550.
The aroC gene of the facultative intracellular pathogen Brucella suis was cloned and sequenced. The cloned aroC gene complements Escherichia coli and Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium aroC mutants. A B. suis aroC mutant was found to be unable to grow in a defined medium without aromatic compounds. The mutant was highly attenuated in tissue culture (THP1 macrophages and HeLa cells) and murine virulence models.
PMCID: PMC97916  PMID: 11119550

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