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Med Mycol. 2013 Jul;51(5):499-506. doi: 10.3109/13693786.2012.751642. Epub 2013 Jan 4.

Molecular epidemiology of Italian clinical Cryptococcus neoformans var. grubii isolates.

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Lab. Micologia Medica, Dip. Scienze Biomediche per la Salute, Università degli Studi di Milano, Milano, Italy.


Cryptococcus neoformans variety grubii is the major etiological agent of cryptococcal meningitis in both immunocompromised and immunocompetent patients. The current PCR-based molecular methods are not sufficient to discriminate among the different populations of this yeast. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to investigate the genotypes of the Italian clinical C. neoformans var. grubii isolates by multilocus sequence typing (MLST). A total of 53 isolates, each representative of a single case, were studied. Genotyping was performed using the ISHAM Cryptococcus MLST consensus scheme and the results were compared to the publically available global C. neoformans var. grubii MLST dataset. A total of 16 genotypes were identified; 14 were new genotypes, one was identical to sequence type (ST) ST81, which had been previously reported from Thailand, and one to ST23 already identified in Uganda, the USA and Korea. Sequence type ST61 was the most numerous, including 16 isolates. Network phylogenetic analysis showed that the Italian isolates could be divided into at least three clusters with similarities with those recovered in Africa, Asia and Americas. Distribution of the STs among the isolates could not be correlated to the hospital in which they were recovered or to the HIV status of the patients. The majority of the isolates belonged to the molecular type VNI; three belonged to the rare molecular type VNII and one to the VNB group, which until now had not been described in Europe. The results reveal that the Italian C. neoformans var. grubii population presents a distinct variability, displaying a high number of new genotypes, and probably recombines sexually.

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