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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2009 May;1166:27-37. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.04525.x.

Comparative proteomic analysis of antibiotic-sensitive and insensitive isolates of Orientia tsutsugamushi.

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  • 1Viral and Rickettsial Diseases Department, Infectious Diseases Directorate, Naval Medical Research Center, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910, USA. chien-chung.chao@med.navy.mil


Scrub typhus, caused by infection with Orientia tsutsugamushi, is probably the most common severe rickettsial disease. Early diagnosis followed by treatment with antibiotics such as doxycycline or chloramphenicol usually quickly decreases fever in patients, and they often recover well from other symptoms of the disease. However, poorly responsive cases have been reported from northern Thailand and southern India. In order to identify protein factors that may be partially responsible for differential drug sensitivity of isolates of Orientia, we compared the protein profiles of doxycycline sensitive (Karp) versus (vs.) insensitive (AFSC4 and AFSC7) isolates. Tryptic peptides from both total water-soluble proteins and from protein spots separated by 2D-PAGE were analyzed using LC-MS/MS. The identity of each protein was established using the published genomic sequence of Boryong strain O. tsutsugamushi. The profiles of protein released into water from these isolates were quite different. There were 10 proteins detected only in AFSC4, 3 only in Karp, and 1 only in AFSC7. Additionally, there were 2 proteins not detected only in AFSC4, 4 not found only in Karp, and 3 not found only in AFSC-7. A comparison of 2D-PAGE protein profiles of drug sensitive strain versus (vs.) insensitive isolates has led to the identification of 14 differentially expressed or localized proteins, including elongation factor Ts and Tu, DNA-directed RNA polymerase alpha-subunit, ATP synthase beta-subunit, and several hypothetical proteins. These data confirm the tremendous proteomic diversity of isolates of Orientia and suggest that drug insensitivity in this species may arise from multiple mechanisms.

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