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J Clin Microbiol. 2001 Jan;39(1):217-21.

Transmission dynamics and molecular characterization of Mycobacterium tuberculosis isolates with low copy numbers of IS6110.

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  • 1Departments of Pathology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


Population-based analysis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis transmission in Houston, Tex., over 5 years identified 377 patients infected with an isolate containing one to four copies of IS6110. The isolates were analyzed by spoligotyping and assigned to one of three major genetic groups based on nucleotide polymorphisms in codons katG 463 and gyrA 95. Prospectively obtained patient interviews were reviewed to assess epidemiologic links between apparently clustered patients. A total of 13 groups of isolates with the same IS6110 profile were identified, representing 326 of the 377 patients (86.5%; range 2 to 113 patients). In contrast, 28 groups of isolates containing 334 patients (88.6%) had the same spoligotype (range, 2 to 143 patients). Combination of IS6110 profile and spoligotype data identified 31 clusters with 300 patients (79.6%; range, 2 to 82 patients). All 377 isolates belonged to major genetic group 1 (77 patients) or genetic group 2 (300 patients); no major genetic group 3 isolates were identified. Among the 228 patients interviewed, 33 patients (14.5%) were directly linked to another patient in the same cluster. Possible epidemiologic links were also found among 11 patients. Moreover, many clusters consisted of individuals with the same ethnicity. In conclusion, we confirmed that IS6110 profiling and spoligotyping together provide enhanced molecular discrimination of M. tuberculosis isolates with low copy numbers of IS6110. Identification of epidemiologic links among some of the patients verified that the combination of these two methods reliably indexes tuberculosis transmission.

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