The Beijing family is the putative hypervirulent lineage of Mycobacterium tuberculosis that has been endemic in East Asia and has disseminated worldwide. The genetic population structure of Beijing family strains with regard to Japan is notable in its high diversity and dominance of the ancestral sublineage, in contrast to the modern sublineage found worldwide. Therefore, it is expected to be a suitable population model for investigating the microevolutionary process of the lineage. Variable number of tandem repeats (VNTR) has become a reliable genotyping method for M. tuberculosis , but its dynamics in the phylogenetic process remains unclear. Using 355 clinical Beijing family isolates in Japan, genetic traits, including VNTR, were analyzed and subjected to minimum spanning tree (MST) reconstruction. In the results, the topology of the tree was tightly related to other genotypic characters. We also found that some VNTR alleles were specific to each sublineage and provided clues for reconstructing a valid MST topology for the population. It is suggested that VNTR typing can elucidate genetic markers representing the phylogenetic classification in the lineage.
Infection, Genetics and Evolution – Elsevier
Published: Sep 1, 2009
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