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J Clin Microbiol. 2005 Aug;43(8):3743-6.

Molecular subtyping of Treponema pallidum from North and South Carolina.

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  • 1Division of STD Prevention, National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia 30333, USA.


Patients from five clinics in North and South Carolina who had lesions suggestive of primary or secondary syphilis were evaluated using molecular techniques that allow the differentiation of Treponema pallidum strains on the basis of two variable genes, tpr and arp. Lesion samples were screened for the presence of T. pallidum DNA using PCR for polA, which represents a segment of the polymerase I gene that is unique to the spirochete. Twenty-seven of 154 lesion samples were found to contain T. pallidum, 23 of which had typeable DNA. Seven molecular subtypes were found (10f, 12f, 13f, 14f, 14g, 15f, and 16f); one to four subtypes were identified at each clinic. Subtype 14f was found in 52% of the typeable specimens and was distributed in four of the five clinics. Subtype 16f was found in 22% of specimens and was concentrated at one clinic. Further data are needed to define the role of this technique in examining the epidemiology of syphilis.

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