[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Short-sequence-repeat (SSR) sequencing was applied to 127 Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis isolates typed by mycobacterial interspersed repetitive unit-variable-number tandem repeats (MIRU-VNTR) and IS900 restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP). Combined MIRU-VNTR and SSR typing followed by secondary IS900 RFLP typing is an improved approach to high-resolution genotyping of this pathogen.
Full-text · Article · Nov 2008 · Journal of clinical microbiology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: An evaluation of a multiplex PCR assay (Bruce-ladder) was performed in seven laboratories using 625 Brucella strains from different animal and geographical origins. This robust test can differentiate in a single step all of the classical
Brucella species, including those found in marine mammals and the S19, RB51, and Rev.1 vaccine strains.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: An evaluation of a multiplex PCR assay (Bruce-ladder) was performed in seven laboratories using 625 Brucella strains from different animal and geographical origins. This robust test can differentiate in a single step all of the classical Brucella species, including those found in marine mammals and the S19, RB51, and Rev.1 vaccine strains. Brucellosis is caused by a facultative intracellular bacterium of the genus Brucella, and it is one of the most frequent bac-terial zoonoses in low-income countries, where the control programs have not succeeded in eradicating this neglected zoonosis. The disease is a major cause of direct economic losses and an impediment to trade and exportation. The genus Brucella consists of six recognized species, designated on the basis of differences in pathogenicity and host preference: B. melitensis (goats and sheep), B. abortus (cattle and bison), B. suis (infecting primarily swine but also hares, rodents, and reindeer), B. ovis (sheep), B. canis (dogs), and B. neotomae (wood rats) (7). The discovery of Brucella in a wide variety of marine mammals has led to the proposal of two new species: B. ceti (cetaceans) and B. pinnipedialis (pinnipeds) (8). Some of these species include several biovars, which are currently dis-tinguished from each other by an analysis of approximately 25 phenotypic characteristics, including requirement for CO 2 , H 2 S production, sensitivity to dyes and phages, and other met-abolic properties (1). However, all these tests are time-con-suming, require skilled technicians, and are not straightfor-ward, and some reagents are not commercially available. In addition, handling of this microorganism represents a high risk for laboratory personnel, since most Brucella strains are highly pathogenic for humans. Accurate diagnostic and typing proce-dures are critical for the success of the eradication and control of the disease, and therefore the identification of the different species is of great epidemiological importance. In order to overcome most of these difficulties, PCR-based assays have been employed for molecular typing of Brucella species. How-ever, one of the challenges of using DNA-based techniques for differentiating the various Brucella species and strains is their high degree of genetic homology (16). This article describes the evaluation of a new multiplex PCR assay (10), named Bruce-ladder, in seven different European laboratories. The PCR protocol was standardized previously (10), and the same protocol was used in all laboratories (see the supplemental material). The selection of the DNA sequences to design the PCR primers was based on species-specific or strain-specific genetic differences (Table 1). Each laboratory used its own Brucella strain collection, typed by standard bacteriological procedures (1). A total of 625 Brucella strains were used (see the complete list in the supplemental material). The collection included the reference strains of all biovars of B. abortus, B. melitensis, B. suis, and B. ovis, B. canis, B. neotomae, the B. abortus S19, B. abortus RB51, and B. melitensis Rev.1 vaccine strains, and the recently proposed B. pinnipedialis and B. ceti (8). To ensure adequate diversity, isolates from different geo-graphic origins and different animal species, including humans, were selected (Table 2). Genomic DNA was extracted from pure cultures by using standard microbial DNA isolation kits or by heat lysis of bacterial cell cultures. Bruce-ladder identi-fication was based on the numbers and sizes of seven products amplified by PCR. A representative example of the multiplex PCR result is presented in Fig. 1. PCR using DNA from B. abortus strains amplified five fragments, of 1,682, 794, 587, 450, and 152 bp in size; with B. melitensis DNA, an additional 1,071-bp fragment was amplified; and B. ovis was distinguished by the absence of the 1,682-bp fragment and B. suis by the presence of an additional 272-bp fragment (also present in B. canis and B. neotomae). PCR with B. abortus S19 DNA did not produce the 587-bp fragment common to all Brucella strains tested, and B. abortus RB51 was readily distinguished by the absence of the 1,682-bp and 1,320-bp fragments and by a spe-cific additional 2,524-bp fragment. The B. melitensis Rev.1
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Many non-tuberculous mycobacteria synthesize abundant glycopeptidolipids (GPLs). These surface-located GPLs are involved in pathogenicity by interfering with the host immune system. In Mycobacterium avium subsp. avium (Mav), GPLs consist of a lipopeptide core composed of a tetrapeptide O-linked to mono- and oligo-saccharides. The biosynthesis pathway of the simplest GPLs is now relatively well understood and involves probably more than fifteen genes. Whereas it is very obvious that most, if not all, of the Mav isolates produce GPLs, the picture is not as clear for M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis (Map), the etiologic agent of Johne's disease in cattle, and several conflicting data have been produced.
Biochemical analysis of a large set of characterized Map isolates showed that all Map strains tested produce a lipopentapeptide (L5P) instead of GPLs. To provide a genomic basis for the synthesis of this compound, the recently published genome sequence of Map was explored using in silico methods. Even though Map produces a lipopeptide rather than GPL, its genome contains nevertheless a locus highly similar to the GPL biosynthetic pathway of Mav. We showed that the module composition of the non-ribosomal protein synthase (Nrp) of Map, the enzyme involved in the synthesis of the peptidyl moiety, is dramatically different from that of other GPL producers such as M. smegmatis (Ms) and Mav and is in agreement with the amino acid content of the L5P. We also showed that the peptidyl moiety of the L5P is a target for a strong specific humoral response in Map infected animals.
These genomic and biochemical differences may help to unambiguously distinguish Map from Mav and also from M. bovis, to reclassify related strains of the Map species and to allow the convenient and specific diagnosis of paratuberculosis.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis, the etiological agent of paratuberculosis, affects a wide range of domestic ruminants and has been suggested to be involved
in Crohn's disease in humans. Most available methods for identifying and differentiating strains of this difficult species
are technically demanding and have limited discriminatory power. Here, we report the identification of novel PCR-based typing
markers consisting of variable-number tandem repeats (VNTRs) of genetic elements called mycobacterial interspersed repetitive
units (MIRUs). Eight markers were applied to 183 M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis isolates from bovine, caprine, ovine, cervine, leporine, and human origins from 10 different countries and to 82 human isolates
of the closely related species M. avium from France. Among the M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis isolates, 21 patterns were found by MIRU-VNTR typing, with a discriminatory index of 0.751. The predominant R01 IS900 restriction fragment length polymorphism type, comprising 131 isolates, was divided into 15 MIRU-VNTR types. Among the 82
M. avium isolates, the eight MIRU-VNTR loci distinguished 30 types, none of which was shared by M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis isolates, resulting in a discriminatory index of 0.889. Our results suggest that MIRU-VNTR typing is a fast typing method
that, in combination with other methods, might prove to be optimal for PCR-based molecular epidemiological studies of M. avium/M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis pathogens. In addition, presumably identical M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis 316F vaccine strains originating from the Weybridge laboratory and from different commercial batches from Mérial actually
differed by one or both typing methods. These results indicate a substantial degree of genetic drift among different vaccine
preparations, which has important implications for prophylactic approaches.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Since the 1990s, Brucella strains not matching the characteristics of any of the six conventional species have been isolated worldwide from marine mammals. In this study, 31 Brucella strains isolated from various marine mammals were examined for their oxidative metabolic pattern on 12 amino-acid and carbohydrate substrates. Three main oxidative profiles different from those of the Brucella terrestrial mammal strains were identified for the marine mammal strains: one gathering strains isolated from pinnipeds and two gathering strains from cetaceans. Thus, both oxidative metabolism results and previous molecular studies are in agreement with the proposal of two new Brucella species, Brucella pinnipediae and Brucella cetaceae, to classify the Brucella strains isolated from marine mammals, and are also in accordance with a classification of species of the Brucella genus based on host preference.
Full-text · Article · Jun 2007 · FEMS Microbiology Letters
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Human brucellosis is still the most common bacterial zoonosis worldwide. Neither well-known molecular tools nor the classical biotyping methods are satisfactory for subtyping of Brucella spp. Loci containing Variable Number of Tandem Repeats (VNTRs) have recently proved their usefulness in typing strains from animal origin despite the high genetic homogeneity within the genus Brucella (DNA-DNA homology >90%). The aim of this study was to evaluate MLVA (Multiple Locus VNTR Analysis) for diagnostic and epidemiological use in human brucellosis. One hundred and twenty-eight B. melitensis isolates of all three biovars were typed using eight minisatellite (panel 1) and eight microsatellite (panel 2) markers. One hundred and ten different genotypes were identified. The MLVA clustering pattern correlated with the geographic origin of the strains. Brucella strains isolated from different patients within the same outbreak or from the same patient before first-line therapy and after relapse showed identical genotypes. Fuchsin sensitive B. melitensis strains were found in closely related clusters giving evidence for an association between VNTRs and some phenotypic characteristics. However, the validity of biovars established by classical microbiological methods could not be confirmed by MLVA clustering. The original data can be queried on the genotyping web page at http://bacterial-genotyping.igmors.u-psud.fr. The MLVA assay is rapid, highly discriminatory, and reproducible within human Brucella isolates. MLVA can significantly contribute to epidemiological trace-back analysis of Brucella infections and may advance surveillance and control of human brucellosis.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mycobacterium tuberculosis produces heparin-binding hemagglutinin (TB-HBHA), an adhesin involved in binding to non-professional phagocytes and in extrapulmonary dissemination. TB-HBHA binds sulphated glycoconjugates through its C-terminal lysine-rich domain and can be purified by heparin-Sepharose chromatography. Homologues of HBHA are found in other pathogenic mycobacteria, but previous investigations failed to demonstrate them in non-pathogenic Mycobacterium smegmatis. We identified a gene encoding a HBHA-like protein, named MS-HBHA, from the complete M. smegmatis genome. The deduced MS-HBHA amino acid sequence revealed 68% identity with that of TB-HBHA and contains lysine-rich repeats in its C-terminal domain. However, in contrast to TB-HBHA, the lysine-rich domain of MS-HBHA is preceded by a stretch of acidic residues. This difference likely explains the low affinity for heparin displayed by MS-HBHA compared to TB-HBHA. Isolation by heparin-Sepharose chromatography procedure and mass spectrometry analysis indicated that MS-HBHA, similar to TB-HBHA contains several methylated lysine residues in its C-terminal domain. Although MS-HBHA is associated with M. smegmatis cell wall fractions, it does not seem to play a role in epithelial adherence and its function remains unknown. We therefore conclude that TB-HBHA may have evolved as an adhesin in pathogenic mycobacteria from a homolog that serves a different function in a saprophytic mycobacterium.
No preview · Article · Mar 2007 · Microbes and Infection
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The commonly used live attenuated vaccine in ovine brucellosis prophylaxis is Brucella melitensis Rev.1. This vaccine is known to induce antibody responses in vaccinated animals indistinguishable by the current conventional serological tests from those observed in challenged animals. Brucella BP26 and Omp31 proteins have shown an interesting potential as diagnostic antigens for ovine brucellosis. Accordingly, the bp26 gene and both bp26 and omp31 genes have been deleted from the vaccine strain Rev.1. Immunogenicity and vaccine efficacy of the parental Rev.1 strain and of both mutants in protecting sheep against B. melitensis strain H38 challenge was evaluated by clinical and bacteriological examination of ewes. They were conjunctivally or subcutaneously vaccinated when 4 months old and then challenged with B. melitensis H38 at the middle of the first pregnancy following vaccination. Deletion of bp26 and omp31 genes did not significantly affect the well recognised capacity of Rev.1 to protect sheep against B. melitensis challenge. However, the protection conferred by the CGV2631 mutant was significantly lower than that conferred by the CGV26 mutant or the Rev.1 strain. Vaccinated and challenged animals were detected positive in classical serological tests and in the IFN-gamma assay. A BP26-based ELISA was investigated to discriminate between ewes vaccinated by the mutants and ewes challenged with B. melitensis H38. The cut-off which was chosen in order to have 100% specificity resulted in a moderate sensitivity for the detection of challenged ewes. The use in the field of one of the mutants as vaccine against a B. melitensis infection, combined with classic diagnostic tests and a BP26 ELISA, could thus give an improvement in the differentiation between vaccinated and infected animals and contribute to the objective of eradication of brucellosis in small ruminants.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Swine brucellosis is caused by the biovars 1, 2 and 3 of Brucella suis the identification of which up to now relies on microbiological tests lacking adequate specificity together with time consuming and expensive molecular procedures. Based on sequence variation of the omp2b gene, we have developed a four primer set multiplex PCR assay that was tested for polymorphism analysis of B. suis biovars causing brucellosis in swine. The assay exploits the single nucleotide polymorphisms found in omp2b gene of B. suis reference biovars which are conserved in 43 B. suis field isolates from different geographic origins and hosts. Three specific amplification patterns (S1, S2 and S3) were obtained for reference strains of B. suis biovars 1, 2 and 3, respectively. However, some B. suis field isolates identified as biovars 2 or 3 according AMOS-PCR, PCR-RFLP of omp31 and omp2 genes and classical bacteriological methods, resulted also in S1 patterns, limiting the typing usefulness of the method.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Brucella melitensis is highly pathogenic and constitutes a serious risk to public health. In Argentina, biovar 1 has been isolated from infected animals, but the Rev.1 strain vaccine is not authorised for use. This report describes nine atypical B. melitensis isolates obtained from humans. These isolates grew slowly, produced small colonies and were susceptible to penicillin and dyes, similar to the B. melitensis Rev.1 vaccine strain, but were inhibited by streptomycin 2.5 mg/L. The isolation of such atypical B. melitensis variants has never been reported from animals in Argentina, and could indicate the emergence of a new mutant variant.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The classification of Brucella into species and biovars relies on phenotypic characteristics and sometimes raises difficulties in the interpretation of the results due to an absence of standardization of the typing reagents. In addition, the resolution of this biotyping is moderate and requires the manipulation of the living agent. More efficient DNA-based methods are needed, and this work explores the suitability of multiple locus variable number tandem repeats analysis (MLVA) for both typing and species identification.
Eighty tandem repeat loci predicted to be polymorphic by genome sequence analysis of three available Brucella genome sequences were tested for polymorphism by genotyping 21 Brucella strains (18 reference strains representing the six 'classical' species and all biovars as well as 3 marine mammal strains currently recognized as members of two new species). The MLVA data efficiently cluster the strains as expected according to their species and biovar. For practical use, a subset of 15 loci preserving this clustering was selected and applied to the typing of 236 isolates. Using this MLVA-15 assay, the clusters generated correspond to the classical biotyping scheme of Brucella spp. The 15 markers have been divided into two groups, one comprising 8 user-friendly minisatellite markers with a good species identification capability (panel 1) and another complementary group of 7 microsatellite markers with higher discriminatory power (panel 2).
The MLVA-15 assay can be applied to large collections of Brucella strains with automated or manual procedures, and can be proposed as a complement, or even a substitute, of classical biotyping methods. This is facilitated by the fact that MLVA is based on non-infectious material (DNA) whereas the biotyping procedure itself requires the manipulation of the living agent. The data produced can be queried on a dedicated MLVA web service site.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Swine brucellosis is caused by the biovars 1, 2 and 3 of Brucella suis the identification of which up to now relies on microbiological tests lacking adequate specificity together with time consuming and expensive molecular procedures. Based on sequence variation of the omp2b gene, we have developed a four primer set multiplex PCR assay that was tested for polymorphism analysis of B. suis biovars causing brucellosis in swine. The assay exploits the single nucleotide polymorphisms found in omp2b gene of B. suis reference biovars which are conserved in 43 B. suis field isolates from different geographic origins and hosts. Three specific amplification patterns (S1, S2 and S3) were obtained for reference strains of B. suis biovars 1, 2 and 3, respectively. However, some B. suis field isolates identified as biovars 2 or 3 according AMOS-PCR, PCR-RFLP of omp31 and omp2 genes and classical bacteriological methods, resulted also in S1 patterns, limiting the typing usefulness of the method. # 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Full-text · Article · Feb 2006 · Veterinary Microbiology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The live attenuated Brucella melitensis Rev.1 strain is considered the best vaccine available for the prophylaxis of brucellosis in sheep caused by either B. melitensis or Brucella ovis. However, its application stimulates antibody responses in vaccinated animals indistinguishable by the current conventional serological tests from those observed in infected animals. The periplasmic protein BP26 and the outer membrane protein (OMP) Omp31 are immunodominant antigens in the serological responses of B. melitensis and B. ovis infected sheep, respectively. Accordingly, vaccine strain Rev.1 single and double deletion mutants of the bp26 and omp31 genes were developed, based on the principle that the use of such mutants as vaccines in association with diagnostic tests based on BP26 and Omp31 antigens would allow the serological differentiation between infected and vaccinated animals. The deletion mutants obtained were indistinguishable from the parental Rev.1 strain by conventional bacteriological and typing tests. The expression of their major surface antigens, as determined by reactivity with specific monoclonal antibodies (MAbs), remained unaffected, i.e. smooth-lipopolysaccharide (S-LPS) and OMPs besides in the expression of the antigens whose respective genes were deleted. The bp26 and omp31 deletions did not modify the kinetics of splenic infection nor the residual virulence of Rev.1 in the BALB/c mouse model. Vaccination of BALB/c mice with the deletion mutants conferred significant protective immunity against B. melitensis strain H38 or B. ovis strain PA challenges, to the same extent as that induced by parental Rev.1 strain. Thus, these Rev.1 bp26 or omp31 deletion mutants are promising vaccine candidates against B. melitensis and B. ovis infections and will be further evaluated in sheep.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Sequencing of bp26, the gene encoding the Brucella sp. immunogenic BP26 periplasmic protein, was performed in the reference strains of Brucella abortus, B. suis, and B. ovis. The three bp26 sequences were almost identical to that published for B. melitensis 16M bp26, and only minor nucleotide substitutions, without modifying the amino acid sequence, were observed between species. The bp26 genes of the seven B. abortus biovar reference strains and B. abortus S19 and RB51 vaccine strains were also sequenced. Again, only minor differences were found. Surprisingly, the bp26 nucleotide sequence for B. abortus S19 was almost identical to that found for B. melitensis 16M and differed from the sequence described previously by others (O. L. Rossetti, A. I. Arese, M. L. Boschiroli, and S. L. Cravero, J. Clin. Microbiol. 34:165-169, 1996) for the same B. abortus strain. The epitope mapping of BP26, performed by using a panel of monoclonal antibodies and recombinant DNA techniques, allowed the identification of an immunodominant region of the protein interesting for the diagnosis of B. melitensis and B. ovis infection in sheep. A recombinant fusion protein containing this region of BP26 reacted indeed, in Western blotting, as the entire recombinant BP26 against sera from B. melitensis- or B. ovis-infected sheep while it avoided false-positive reactions observed with sera from Brucella-free sheep when using the entire recombinant BP26. Thus, use of this recombinant fusion protein instead the entire recombinant BP26 could improve the specific serological diagnosis of B. melitensis or B. ovis infection in sheep.
Full-text · Article · Aug 2003 · Clinical and Diagnostic Laboratory Immunology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Brucella strains have been isolated since the 1990s from a wide variety of marine mammals and represent potential zoonotic pathogens. They have distinctive phenotypic and molecular characteristics from the terrestrial mammal Brucella species, and two new species names have been previously proposed based on DNA polymorphism at the omp2 locus and their preferential host, i.e. Brucella cetaceae for cetacean isolates and Brucella pinnipediae for pinniped isolates. The results presented in this study on characterization of these strains by infrequent restriction site-PCR (IRS-PCR), taking into account the higher number of IS711 elements in their genome compared to terrestrial mammal Brucella species, supports this classification. The nucleotide sequences of specific DNA fragments detected by IRS-PCR were determined and used to develop PCR identification tests for either B. cetaceae or B. pinnipediae.
No preview · Article · Jul 2003 · Microbes and Infection
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The live attenuated strain B. melitensis Rev.1 is considered the best vaccine available for the prophylaxis of brucellosis in sheep and goats. The Rev.1 vaccine was obtained in the 1950s by a two-step selection involving firstly streptomycin resistance and dependence and secondly reversion of dependence but keeping streptomycin resistance. Chromosomally acquired streptomycin resistance is frequently due to mutations in the gene encoding the ribosomal protein S12, rpsL. Nucleotide sequencing revealed one mutation in the rpsL gene of vaccine strain Rev.1 compared to that of reference strain 16M leading to an amino acid Pro-to-Leu change at codon position 91 (Pro91Leu). This mutation resulted also in the lack of a NciI restriction site in the gene. PCR-restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR-RFLP) using NciI applied to a large number of Brucella reference and field strains showed that the mutation detected was specific of vaccine strain Rev.1.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Smooth lipopolysaccharides (S-LPSs) from Brucella strains isolated from seals, dolphins, porpoises, an otter and a minke whale were characterized by ELISA using monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) directed against seven previously defined O-polysaccharide (O-PS) epitopes and by Western blot after SDS-PAGE. All strains studied were A-dominant as shown by specific polyclonal sera and this was also confirmed by the mAbs. However, binding patterns in ELISA of mAbs to the specific common (C) epitopes were rather heterogeneous, and for some strains, such as those isolated from striped dolphins, binding of these mAbs was much reduced or negative as had previously been shown for Brucella suis biovar 2 strains. Western blot after SDS-PAGE showed the typical A-dominant strain banding pattern for all marine mammal Brucella isolates, but the average S-LPS size was shorter in many of these compared to reference Brucella abortus strain 544. Thus, S-LPSs of the marine mammal isolates show heterogeneity with regard to their O-PS C epitope content and their average size.
No preview · Article · Jul 2002 · Research in Microbiology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Omp2a and Omp2b are highly homologous porins present in the outer membrane of the bacteria from the genus Brucella, a facultative intracellular pathogen. The genes coding for these proteins are closely linked in the Brucella genome and oriented in opposite directions. In this work, we present the cloning, purification, and characterization of four
Omp2b size variants found in various Brucella species, and we compare their antigenic and functional properties to the Omp2a and Omp2b porins ofBrucella melitensis reference strain 16M. The variation of the Omp2a and Omp2b porin sequences among the various strains of the genus Brucella seems to result mostly from multiple gene conversions between the two highly homologous genes. As shown in this study, this
phenomenon has led to the creation of natural Omp2a and Omp2b chimeric proteins in Omp2b porin size variants. The comparison
by liposome swelling assay of the porins sugar permeability suggested a possible functional differences between Omp2a and
Omp2b, with Omp2a showing a more efficient pore in sugar diffusion. The sequence variability in the Omp2b size variants was
located in the predicted external loops of the porin. Several epitopes recognized by anti-Omp2b monoclonal antibodies were
mapped by comparison of the Omp2b size variants antigenicity, and two of them were located in the most exposed surface loops.
However, since variations are mostly driven by simple exchanges of conserved motifs between the two genes (except for an Omp2b
version from an atypical strain of Brucella suisbiovar 3), the porin variability does not result in major antigenic variability of the Brucella surface that could help the bacteria during the reinfection of a host. Porin variation inBrucella seems to result mainly in porin conductivity modifications.
Full-text · Article · Sep 2001 · Journal of Bacteriology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A number of recent reports have described the isolation and characterization of Brucella strains from a wide variety of marine mammals such as seals, porpoises, dolphins and a minke whale. These strains were identified as brucellae by conventional typing tests. However, their overall characteristics were not assimilable to those of any of the six currently recognized Brucella species and it was suggested that they comprise a new nomen species to be called Brucella maris. In the present study we analysed DNA polymorphism at the omp2 locus of 33 marine mammal Brucella strains isolated from seals, dolphins, porpoises and an otter. The omp2 locus contains two gene copies (named omp2a and omp2b) coding for porin proteins and has been found particularly useful for molecular typing and identification of Brucella at the species, biovar, or strain level. PCR-restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) and DNA sequencing showed that strains isolated from dolphins and porpoises carry two omp2b gene copies instead of one omp2a and one omp2b gene copy or two similar omp2a gene copies reported in the currently recognized species. This observation was also recently made for a minke whale Brucella isolate. The otter and all seal isolates except one were shown to carry one omp2a and one omp2b gene copy as encountered in isolates from terrestrial mammals. By PCR-RFLP of the omp2b gene, a specific marker was detected grouping the marine mammal Brucella isolates. Although marine mammal Brucella isolates may represent a separate group from terrestrial mammal isolates based on omp2b sequence constructed phylogenetic trees, the divergence found between their omp2b and also between their omp2a nucleotide sequences indicates that they form a more heterogeneous group than isolates from terrestrial mammals. Therefore, grouping the marine mammal Brucella isolates into one species Brucella maris seems inappropriate unless the currently recognized Brucella species are grouped. With respect to the current classification of brucellae according to the preferential host, brucellae isolated from such diverse marine mammal species as seals and dolphins could actually comprise more than one species, and at least two new species, B. pinnipediae and B. cetaceae, could be compatible with the classical criteria of host preferentialism and DNA polymorphism at their omp2 locus.
Full-text · Article · Aug 2001 · Microbes and Infection