Genotyping of Francisella tularensis strains by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, amplified fragment length polymorphism fingerprinting, and 16S rRNA gene sequencing.

Section of Microbiology and Immunology, Department of Animal Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, León, Spain.
Journal of Clinical Microbiology (Impact Factor: 4.07). 09/2002; 40(8):2964-72. DOI: 10.1128/JCM.40.8.2964-2972.2002
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT We evaluated three molecular methods for identification of Francisella strains: pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) analysis, and 16S rRNA gene sequencing. The analysis was performed with 54 Francisella tularensis subsp. holarctica, 5 F. tularensis subsp. tularensis, 2 F. tularensis subsp. novicida, and 1 F. philomiragia strains. On the basis of the combination of results obtained by PFGE with the restriction enzymes XhoI and BamHI, PFGE revealed seven pulsotypes, which allowed us to discriminate the strains to the subspecies level and which even allowed us to discriminate among some isolates of F. tularensis subsp. holarctica. The AFLP analysis technique produced some degree of discrimination among F. tularensis subsp. holarctica strains (one primary cluster with three major subclusters and minor variations within subclusters) when EcoRI-C and MseI-A, EcoRI-T and MseI-T, EcoRI-A and MseI-C, and EcoRI-0 and MseI-CA were used as primers. The degree of similarity among the strains was about 94%. The percent similarities of the AFLP profiles of this subspecies compared to those of F. tularensis subsp. tularensis, F. tularensis subsp. novicida, and F. philomiragia were less than 90%, about 72%, and less than 24%, respectively, thus permitting easy differentiation of this subspecies. 16S rRNA gene sequencing revealed 100% similarity for all F. tularensis subsp. holarctica isolates compared in this study. These results suggest that although limited genetic heterogeneity among F. tularensis subsp. holarctica isolates was observed, PFGE and AFLP analysis appear to be promising tools for the diagnosis of infections caused by different subspecies of F. tularensis and suitable techniques for the differentiation of individual strains.

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    ABSTRACT: Francisella tularensis is a highly infectious facultative intracellular pathogen that is considered a potential agent of bioterrorism. Four different F. tularensis subspecies have been identified and they appear to display different ecological and virulence characteristics as well as differences in geographical distribution. One simple explanation for the variation in ecological and virulence characteristics is that they are conferred by differences in genome content. To characterize genome content among stains isolated from United States, we have used a DNA microarray designed from a shotgun library of a reference strain. Polymorphisms distributed among polyphyletic sets of strains was the most common pattern of genome alteration observed, indicating that strain-specific genome variability is significant. Nonetheless, 13 different contiguous segments of the genome were found to be missing exclusively in each of the subsp. holarctica strains tested. All 13 are associated with repeat sequences or transposases that could promote insertion/deletion events. Comparison of the live vaccine strain to other holarctica strains also identified three regions that are absent exclusively in the live vaccine strain derived from holarctica.
    FEMS Microbiology Letters 01/2006; 237(1):9 - 17. · 2.05 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Francisella tularensis, the etiologic agent of tularemia and a Class A Select Agent, is divided into three subspecies and multiple subpopulations that differ in virulence and geographic distribution. Given these differences, there is a need to rapidly and accurately determine if a strain is F. tularensis and, if it is, assign it to subspecies and subpopulation. We designed TaqMan real-time PCR genotyping assays using eleven single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that were potentially specific to closely related groups within the genus Francisella, including numerous subpopulations within F. tularensis species. We performed extensive validation studies to test the specificity of these SNPs to particular populations by screening the assays across a set of 565 genetically and geographically diverse F. tularensis isolates and an additional 21 genetic near-neighbor (outgroup) isolates. All eleven assays correctly determined the genetic groups of all 565 F. tularensis isolates. One assay differentiates F. tularensis, F. novicida, and F. hispaniensis from the more genetically distant F. philomiragia and Francisella-like endosymbionts. Another assay differentiates F. tularensis isolates from near neighbors. The remaining nine assays classify F. tularensis-confirmed isolates into F. tularensis subspecies and subpopulations. The genotyping accuracy of these nine assays diminished when tested on outgroup isolates (i.e. non F. tularensis), therefore a hierarchical approach of assay usage is recommended wherein the F. tularensis-specific assay is used before the nine downstream assays. Among F. tularensis isolates, all eleven assays were highly sensitive, consistently amplifying very low concentrations of DNA. Altogether, these eleven TaqMan real-time PCR assays represent a highly accurate, rapid, and sensitive means of identifying the species, subspecies, and subpopulation of any F. tularensis isolate if used in a step-wise hierarchical scheme. These assays would be very useful in clinical, epidemiological, and/or forensic investigations involving F. tularensis.
    PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(9):e107964. · 3.53 Impact Factor

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