Brucella 'HOOF-Prints': strain typing by multi-locus analysis of variable number tandem repeats (VNTRs)
1 United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, National Animal Disease Center, 2300 Dayton Rd, Ames, IA, 50010, USA
2 United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Veterinary Services, National Veterinary Services Laboratories, 1800 Dayton Rd, Ames, IA, 50010, USA
BMC Microbiology 2003, 3:15 doi:10.1186/1471-2180-3-15Published: 11 July 2003
Currently, there are very few tools available for subtyping Brucella isolates for epidemiological trace-back. Subtyping is difficult because of the genetic homogeneity within the genus. Sequencing of the genomes from three Brucella species has facilitated the search for DNA sequence variability. Recently, hypervariability among short tandem repeat sequences has been exploited for strain-typing of several bacterial pathogens.
An eight-base pair tandem repeat sequence was discovered in nine genomic loci of the B. abortus genome. Eight loci were hypervariable among the three Brucella species. A PCR-based method was developed to identify the number of repeat units (alleles) at each locus, generating strain-specific fingerprints. None of the loci exhibited species- or biovar-specific alleles. Sometimes, a species or biovar contained a specific allele at one or more loci, but the allele also occurred in other species or biovars. The technique successfully differentiated the type strains for all Brucella species and biovars, among unrelated B. abortus biovar 1 field isolates in cattle, and among B. abortus strains isolated from bison and elk. Isolates from the same herd or from short-term in vitro passage exhibited little or no variability in fingerprint pattern. Sometimes, isolates from an animal would have multiple alleles at a locus, possibly from mixed infections in enzootic areas, residual disease from incomplete depopulation of an infected herd or molecular evolution within the strain. Therefore, a mixed population or a pool of colonies from each animal and/or tissue was tested.
This paper describes a new method for fingerprinting Brucella isolates based on multi-locus characterization of a variable number, eight-base pair, tandem repeat. We have named this technique "HOOF-Prints" for