Helen D. Donoghue

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Reductive evolution and massive pseudogene formation have shaped the 3.31-Mb genome of Mycobacterium leprae, an unculturable obligate pathogen that causes leprosy in humans. The complete genome sequence of M. leprae strain Br4923 from Brazil was obtained by conventional methods (6x coverage), and Illumina resequencing technology was used to obtain the(More)
There are several specific PCR-based methods to detect Mycobacterium leprae DNA, but the amplicons are quite large. For example, primers that target the 36-kDa antigen gene and are in common diagnostic use yield a 530-bp product. This may be a disadvantage when examining samples in which the DNA is likely to be damaged and fragmented. Therefore, two sets of(More)
In order to assess the presence of tuberculosis in Pleistocene bison and the origin of tuberculosis in North America, 2 separate DNA extractions were performed by 2 separate laboratories on samples from the metacarpal of an extinct long-horned bison that was radiocarbon dated at 17,870+/-230 years before present and that had pathological changes suggestive(More)
BACKGROUND Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the principal etiologic agent of human tuberculosis. It has no environmental reservoir and is believed to have co-evolved with its host over millennia. This is supported by skeletal evidence of the disease in early humans, and inferred from M. tuberculosis genomic analysis. Direct examination of ancient human remains(More)
Both leprosy and tuberculosis were prevalent in Europe during the first millennium but thereafter leprosy declined. It is not known why this occurred, but one suggestion is that cross-immunity protected tuberculosis patients from leprosy. To investigate any relationship between the two diseases, selected archaeological samples, dating from the Roman period(More)
During the past 10 years palaeomicrobiology, a new scientific discipline, has developed. The study of ancient pathogens by direct detection of their DNA has answered several historical questions and shown changes to pathogens over time. However, ancient DNA (aDNA) continues to be controversial and great care is needed to provide valid data. Here we review(More)
Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex DNA was isolated and identified in calcified pleura from remains 1400 years old, with the polymerase chain reaction. This is the first demonstration of tuberculosis in non-mummified archaeological tissue other than bone; the presence of mycobacterial mycolic acids in the sample supports this conclusion. The study of(More)
To the Editor: In 1994, a crypt containing 242 bodies was discovered in Vác, Hungary. Many of the bodies were naturally mummified, including the remains of Terézia Hausmann (referred to as Body 68 in the Supplementary Appendix, available with the full text of this letter at NEJM.org), who died on December 25, 1797, at 28 years of age.1,2 A chest radiograph(More)