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J Clin Microbiol. 2005 Apr;43(4):1689-93.

Identification and distribution of Acanthamoeba species genotypes associated with nonkeratitis infections.

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  • 1Department of Evolution, Ecology, Organismal Biology, The Ohio State University, 318 W. 12th Ave., Columbus, OH 43210, USA.


Acanthamoeba is a free-living protozoan genus found in a wide variety of natural habitats, including water, soil, and air. Pathogenic isolates of Acanthamoeba are medically relevant as the causative agent of sight- threatening Acanthamoeba keratitis (AK), serious infections of other organs, and fatal granulomatous amebic encephalitis. Previous work employing DNA sequences of nuclear and mitochondrial small-subunit rRNA genes (SSU rRNA genes) determined the genotypic diversity of Acanthamoeba and found that many named species of Acanthamoeba are associated with particular genotypes. These studies also concluded that nearly all AK infections result from a single molecular genotype: T4. Here, we asked whether Acanthamoeba clinical isolates from non-AK infections are also associated with particular genotypes. DNA sequence determination of nuclear SSU rRNA genes was employed for genotypic identification of 29 isolates of Acanthamoeba from non-AK infections. Sequence analysis demonstrates that T4 is the predominant genotype in non-AK infections, including those in brain, cerebrospinal fluid, nasal passages, skin, and lung. Rare genotypes (T1, T10, and T12) have been isolated from brain infections. We conclude that genotype T4 is the primary genotype in non-AK Acanthamoeba infections, as was the case in AK infections. However, the genotypes that were isolated from brains have not been observed in environmental isolates of Acanthamoeba, and their natural ecological niche is unknown.

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