Genotyping of Francisella tularensis Strains by Pulsed-Field Gel Electrophoresis, Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphism Fingerprinting, and 16S rRNA Gene Sequencing

German Historical Institute, Washington DC, Washington, Washington, D.C., United States
Journal of Clinical Microbiology (Impact Factor: 3.99). 09/2002; 40(8):2964-72. DOI: 10.1128/JCM.40.8.2964-2972.2002
Source: PubMed


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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    • "Two subspecies of F. tularensis, subspecies tularensis (type A) and subspecies holarctica (type B) are of clinical importance in causing tularemia [3]. Differentiation between these two subspecies is based on biochemical testing, molecular typing methods, virulence, and epidemiological characteristics [3], [4]-[11]. Geographically, F. tularensis subsp. "
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    ABSTRACT: Francisella tularensis subspecies tularensis (type A) and holarctica (type B) are of clinical importance in causing tularemia. Molecular typing methods have further separated type A strains into three genetically distinct clades, A1a, A1b and A2. Epidemiological analyses of human infections in the United States suggest that A1b infections are associated with a significantly higher mortality rate as compared to infections caused by A1a, A2 and type B. To determine if genetic differences as defined by molecular typing directly correlate with differences in virulence, A1a, A1b, A2 and type B strains were compared in C57BL/6 mice. Here we demonstrate significant differences between survival curves for infections caused by A1b versus A1a, A2 and type B, with A1b infected mice dying earlier than mice infected with A1a, A2 or type B; these results were conserved among multiple strains. Differences were also detected among type A clades as well as between type A clades and type B with respect to bacterial burdens, and gross anatomy in infected mice. Our results indicate that clades defined within F. tularensis subsp. tularensis by molecular typing methods correlate with virulence differences, with A1b strains more virulent than A1a, A2 and type B strains. These findings indicate type A strains are not equivalent with respect to virulence and have important implications for public health as well as basic research programs.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2010 · PLoS ONE
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    • "F. tularensis strains show high genetic homogeneity, especially in the holarctica subspecies . If several typing methods, such as Insertion Sequence Probed RFLP (Thomas et al. 2003), macrorestriction using pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and amplified fragment length polymorphism (Garcia Del Blanco et al. 2002), repetitive element PCR, arbitrarily primed PCR (Johansson et al. 2000), and ribotyping (Grif et al. 2003) were eventually used for typing F. tularensis subspecies, the results would lack high-resolution discrimination between individual strains. Multilocus sequence typing (MLST) failed to separate F. tularensis strains at the strain level (Johansson et al. 2004b). "
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    ABSTRACT: It is critical to avoid delays in detecting strain manipulations, such as the addition/deletion of a gene or modification of genes for increased virulence or antibiotic resistance, using genome analysis during an epidemic outbreak or a bioterrorist attack. Our objective was to evaluate the efficiency of genome analysis in such an emergency context by using contigs produced by pyrosequencing without time-consuming finishing processes and comparing them to available genomes for the same species. For this purpose, we analyzed a clinical isolate of Francisella tularensis subspecies holarctica (strain URFT1), a potential biological weapon, and compared the data obtained with available genomic sequences of other strains. The technique provided 1,800,530 bp of assembled sequences, resulting in 480 contigs. We found by comparative analysis with other strains that all the gaps but one in the genome sequence were caused by repeats. No new genes were found, but a deletion was detected that included three putative genes and part of a fourth gene. The set of 35 candidate LVS virulence attenuation genes was identified, as well as a DNA gyrase mutation associated with quinolone resistance. Selection for variable sequences in URFT1 allowed the design of a strain-specific, highly effective typing system that was applied to 74 strains and six clinical specimens. The analysis presented herein may be completed within approximately 6 wk, a duration compatible with that required by an urgent context. In the bioterrorism context, it allows the rapid detection of strain manipulation, including intentionally added virulence genes and genes that support antibiotic resistance.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2008 · Genome Research
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    • "holarctica and F. tularensis ssp. mediasiatica, both with identical 16S rDNA sequences (Farlow et al. 2001; Garcia Del Blanco et al. 2002; Johansson et al. 2004a), by one single-nucleotide polymorphism as described previously (Johansson et al. 2004b). The MicroSeq database V1.0 entry for F. tularensis shows one mismatch for the F. tularensis ssp. "
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    ABSTRACT: In a bioterrorism event a rapid tool is needed to identify relevant dangerous bacteria. The aim of the study was to assess the usefulness of partial 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis and the suitability of diverse databases for identifying dangerous bacterial pathogens. For rapid identification purposes a 500-bp fragment of the 16S rRNA gene of 28 isolates comprising Bacillus anthracis, Brucella melitensis, Burkholderia mallei, Burkholderia pseudomallei, Francisella tularensis, Yersinia pestis, and eight genus-related and unrelated control strains was amplified and sequenced. The obtained sequence data were submitted to three public and two commercial sequence databases for species identification. The most frequent reason for incorrect identification was the lack of the respective 16S rRNA gene sequences in the database. Sequence analysis of a 500-bp 16S rDNA fragment allows the rapid identification of dangerous bacterial species. However, for discrimination of closely related species sequencing of the entire 16S rRNA gene, additional sequencing of the 23S rRNA gene or sequencing of the 16S-23S rRNA intergenic spacer is essential. This work provides comprehensive information on the suitability of partial 16S rDNA analysis and diverse databases for rapid and accurate identification of dangerous bacterial pathogens.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2007 · Journal of Applied Microbiology
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