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2.  Multiple-Locus Variable-Number Tandem Repeat Analysis Reveals Genetic Relationships within Bacillus anthracis 
Journal of Bacteriology  2000;182(10):2928-2936.
Bacillus anthracis is one of the most genetically homogeneous pathogens described, making strain discrimination particularly difficult. In this paper, we present a novel molecular typing system based on rapidly evolving variable-number tandem repeat (VNTR) loci. Multiple-locus VNTR analysis (MLVA) uses the combined power of multiple alleles at several marker loci. In our system, fluorescently labeled PCR primers are used to produce PCR amplification products from eight VNTR regions in the B. anthracis genome. These are detected and their sizes are determined using an ABI377 automated DNA sequencer. Five of these eight loci were discovered by sequence characterization of molecular markers (vrrC1, vrrC2, vrrB1, vrrB2, and CG3), two were discovered by searching complete plasmid nucleotide sequences (pXO1-aat and pXO2-at), and one was known previously (vrrA). MLVA characterization of 426 B. anthracis isolates identified 89 distinct genotypes. VNTR markers frequently identified multiple alleles (from two to nine), with Nei's diversity values between 0.3 and 0.8. Unweighted pair-group method arithmetic average cluster analysis identified six genetically distinct groups that appear to be derived from clones. Some of these clones show worldwide distribution, while others are restricted to particular geographic regions. Human commerce doubtlessly has contributed to the dispersal of particular clones in ancient and modern times.
PMCID: PMC102004  PMID: 10781564
3.  Diversity in a Variable-Number Tandem Repeat from Yersinia pestis 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2000;38(4):1516-1519.
We have identified a tetranucleotide repeat sequence, (CAAA)N, in the genome of Yersinia pestis, the causative agent of plague. This variable-number tandem repeat (VNTR) region has nine alleles and great diversity (calculated as 1 minus the sum of the squared allele frequencies) (diversity value, 0.82) within a set of 35 diverse Y. pestis strains. In contrast, the nucleotide sequence of the lcrV (low-calcium-response) gene differed only slightly among these strains, having a haplotype diversity value of 0.17. Replicated cultures, phenotypic variants of particular strains, and extensively cultured replicates within strains did not differ in VNTR allele type. Thus, while a high mutation rate must contribute to the great diversity of this locus, alleles appear stable under routine laboratory culture conditions. The classic three plague biovars did not have single identifying alleles, although there were allelic biases within biovar categories. The antiqua biovar was the most diverse, with four alleles observed in 5 strains, while the orientalis and mediaevalis biovars exhibited five alleles in 21 strains and three alleles in 8 strains, respectively. The CAAA VNTR is located immediately adjacent to the transcriptional promoters for flanking open reading frames and may affect their activity. This VNTR marker may provide a high-resolution tool for epidemiological analyses of plague.
PMCID: PMC86479  PMID: 10747136

Results 1-3 (3)