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Open Access Research article

Rough colony morphology of Mycobacterium massiliense Type II genotype is due to the deletion of glycopeptidolipid locus within its genome

Byoung-Jun Kim, Bo-Ram Kim, So-Young Lee, Yoon-Hoh Kook and Bum-Joon Kim*

Author Affiliations

Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Biomedical Sciences, Liver Research Institute, Cancer Research Institute and Seoul National University Medical Research Center (SNUMRC), Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul 110-799, Republic of Korea

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BMC Genomics 2013, 14:890  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-890

Published: 17 December 2013



Recently, we introduced the complete genome sequence of Mycobacterium massiliense clinical isolates, Asan 50594 belonging to Type II genotype with rough colony morphology. Here, to address the issue of whether the rough colony morphotype of M. massiliense Type II genotype is genetically determined or not, we compared polymorphisms of the glycopeptidolipid (GPL) gene locus between M. massiliense Type II Asan 50594 and other rapidly growing mycobacteria (RGM) strains via analysis of genome databases.


We found deletions of 10 genes (24.8 kb), in the GPL biosynthesis related gene cluster of Asan 50594 genome, but no deletions in those of other smooth RGMs. To check the presence of deletions of GPL biosynthesis related genes in Mycobacterium abscessus − complex strains, PCRs targeting 12 different GPL genes (10 genes deleted in Asan 50594 genome as well as 2 conserved genes) were applied into 76 clinical strains of the M. abscessus complex strains [54 strains (Type I: 33, and Type II: 21) of M. massiliense and 22 strains (rough morphoype: 11 and smooth morphotype: 11) of M. abscessus]. No strains of the Type II genotype produced PCR amplicons in a total of 10 deleted GPL genes, suggesting loss of GPL biosynthesis genes in the genome of M. massiliense type II genotype strains.


Our data suggested that the rough colony morphotype of the M. massiliense Type II genotype may be acquired via deletion events at the GPL gene locus for evolutionary adaptation between the host and pathogen.

Mycobacterium massiliense; Glycopeptidolipid (GPL); Rough colony morphotype; GPL biosynthesis related genes; Comparative genomics