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Epidemiol Infect. 1996 Dec;117(3):501-6.

Distribution of mip-related sequences in 39 species (48 serogroups) of Legionellaceae.

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UPRES EA1655, Faculté de Médecine René Laennec, Lyon, France.


The macrophage infectivity potentiator gene (mip) from Legionella pneumophila is a major virulence factor of the species. Thus, mip-detection by amplification has been proposed to assess the presence of L. pneumophila in clinical and environmental samples. The distribution of mip-related sequences within the Legionellaceae was studied by DNA amplification using mip-specific primers followed by Southern blot hybridization with an internal probe. Thirty-nine species (48 serogroups) of Legionellaceae were screened in this attempt. Using this approach, sequences related to mip were observed in 89% of the tested species including the most recently described L. fairfieldensis, L. lansingensis and L. shakespearei. In several cases, cloning and sequencing of the amplified products confirmed the high levels of similarity between the sequence found in non-pneumophila species with that of the L. pneumophila mip gene. This confirms previous reports that mip related genes are widespread among Legionellaceae and therefore specific detection of the species L. pneumophila cannot be based on mip-targeted amplification.

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