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J Clin Microbiol. 1993 Feb;31(2):390-4.

Large DNA restriction fragment polymorphism in the Mycobacterium avium-M. intracellulare complex: a potential epidemiologic tool.

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Department of Medicine, University of Texas Health Center, Tyler 75710.


Mycobacterium avium-M. intracellulare complex (MAI) isolates were studied by comparing the large restriction fragment (LRF) patterns produced by digesting their DNAs with infrequently cutting restriction endonucleases and separating the resultant large fragments by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. Four reference strains and 35 randomly selected clinical MAI isolates gave highly diverse LRF patterns when their DNAs were digested with XbaI or AsnI. The LRF patterns of random isolates identified to be the same species by DNA probe analysis were not similar. The LRF patterns of random isolates of the same serotype were also different. In contrast, all isolates recovered from the same patient gave identical patterns. This included 28 isolates from nine patients. One isolate from sputum, one isolate from bone marrow, and two isolates from blood recovered over a 27-month period from a patient with AIDS were identical. Seven isolates recovered from the sputum of a second patient over 37 months also had identical patterns. The LRF patterns of unrelated MAI strains are highly polymorphic, appear to be strain specific, are relatively stable, and offer exciting promise as epidemiologic markers for the study of MAI infections.

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