Multiple-locus variable-number tandem-repeat analysis (MLVA) genotyping of human Brucella isolates in Malaysia
Human brucellosis is still the most common bacterial zoonosis worldwide. Neither well-known molecular tools nor the classical biotyping methods are satisfactory for subtyping of Brucella spp. Loci containing Variable Number of Tandem Repeats (VNTRs) have recently proved their usefulness in typing strains from animal origin despite the high genetic homogeneity within the genus Brucella (DNA-DNA homology >90%). The aim of this study was to evaluate MLVA (Multiple Locus VNTR Analysis) for diagnostic and epidemiological use in human brucellosis. One hundred and twenty-eight B. melitensis isolates of all three biovars were typed using eight minisatellite (panel 1) and eight microsatellite (panel 2) markers. One hundred and ten different genotypes were identified. The MLVA clustering pattern correlated with the geographic origin of the strains. Brucella strains isolated from different patients within the same outbreak or from the same patient before first-line therapy and after relapse showed identical genotypes. Fuchsin sensitive B. melitensis strains were found in closely related clusters giving evidence for an association between VNTRs and some phenotypic characteristics. However, the validity of biovars established by classical microbiological methods could not be confirmed by MLVA clustering. The original data can be queried on the genotyping web page at http://bacterial-genotyping.igmors.u-psud.fr. The MLVA assay is rapid, highly discriminatory, and reproducible within human Brucella isolates. MLVA can significantly contribute to epidemiological trace-back analysis of Brucella infections and may advance surveillance and control of human brucellosis.