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J Clin Microbiol. 1995 Dec;33(12):3234-8.

Predominance of a single genotype of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in countries of east Asia.

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Laboratory for Bacteriology and Antimicrobial Agents and Unit Molecular Microbiology, National Institute of Public Health and Environmental Protection, Bilthoven, The Netherlands.


Analysis of the population structure of Mycobacterium tuberculosis strains from the People's Republic of China showed that the vast majority belong to a genetically closely related group. These strains shared the majority of their IS6110 DNA-containing restriction fragments, and also, the DNA polymorphism associated with other repetitive DNA elements, like the polymorphic GC-rich sequence and the direct repeat, was very limited. Because the majority of these strains originated from the province of Beijing, we designated this grouping the "Beijing family" of M. tuberculosis strains. Strains of this family were also found to dominate in neighboring countries such as Mongolia, South Korea, and Thailand, whereas a low prevalence of such strains was observed in countries on other continents. These data indicate that strains of the Beijing family recently expanded from a single ancestor which had a selective advantage. It is speculated that long-term Mycobacterium bovis BCG vaccination may be one of the selective forces implicated in the successful spread of the Beijing genotype.

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