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J Clin Microbiol. 2002 Jul;40(7):2425-30.

Histologic and genotypic characterization of a novel Mycobacterium species found in three cats.

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Department of Veterinary Pathology, Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada S7N 5B4.


Three cases of feline atypical mycobacteriosis from different geographical regions in North America were characterized by large clusters of filamentous bacteria visible on hematoxylin-and-eosin-stained tissue sections. PCR amplification demonstrated the presence of Mycobacterium-specific nucleic acid in samples of skin lesions from these cases. PCR-assisted cloning and DNA sequence analysis of a 541-bp length of the Mycobacterium 16S rRNA gene generated DNA sequences which were >95% identical, suggesting that the three isolates were closely related. Two of the sequences were 99% identical and may represent the same species. Alignment with comparable 16S rRNA gene sequences from 66 Mycobacterium species and partially characterized isolates highlighted similarities (>94%) with Mycobacterium bohemicum, Mycobacterium haemophilum, Mycobacterium ulcerans, Mycobacterium avium subsp. avium, and isolate IWGMT 90242. Parsimony analysis of sequence data suggested relatedness to M. leprae. Significant molecular genetic and pathobiological differences between these three similar isolates and other known species of mycobacteria suggested that the organisms may not have been described previously and that these cases may represent a new form of mycobacterial disease in cats. We suggest the term "Mycobacterium visibilis" to describe the organism from which the two nearly identical sequences were obtained.

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