We developed a multilocus sequence typing (MLST) scheme for Mycobacterium abscessus sensu lato, based on the partial sequencing of seven housekeeping genes: argH, cya, glpK, gnd, murC, pta and purH. This scheme was used to characterize a collection of 227 isolates recovered between 1994 and 2010 in France, Germany, Switzerland and Brazil. We identified 100 different sequence types (STs), which were distributed into three groups on the tree obtained by concatenating the sequences of the seven housekeeping gene fragments (3576bp): the M. abscessus sensu stricto group (44 STs), the "M. massiliense" group (31 STs) and the "M. bolletii" group (25 STs). SplitTree analysis showed a degree of intergroup lateral transfers. There was also evidence of lateral transfer events involving rpoB. The most prevalent STs in our collection were ST1 (CC5; 20 isolates) and ST23 (CC3; 31 isolates). Both STs were found in Europe and Brazil, and the latter was implicated in a large post-surgical procedure outbreak in Brazil. Respiratory isolates from patients with cystic fibrosis belonged to a large variety of STs; however, ST2 was predominant in this group of patients. Our MLST scheme, publicly available at www.pasteur.fr/mlst, offers investigators a valuable typing tool for M. abscessus sensu lato in future epidemiological studies throughout the world.
Keywords: Cystic fibrosis; Molecular identification; Molecular typing; Multilocus sequence typing; Mycobacterium abscessus complex; Non-tuberculous mycobacteria; Opportunistic mycobacteria; Phylogenetic analysis; rpoB.
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