Influence of conserved and hypervariable genetic markers on genotyping circulating strains of Neisseria gonorrhoeae

Sinisa Vidovic, Greg B. Horsman, Mingmin Liao, Jo Anne R. Dillon

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8 Scopus citations


Presently there is no vaccine against Neisseria gonorrhoeae and therefore accurate information on gonococcal transmission plays a crucial role for interventions designed to limit the spread of infections caused by this microorganism. We evaluated the impact of two different categories of genetic markers, (i) concatenated sequences of 10 housekeeping genes and (ii) hypervariable porB DNA sequences, on the genetic relatedness and subsequently on genotyping analysis of this human pathogen. Eighty gonococcal isolates from Canada, China, the US, Argentina, Venezuela and Chile, collected over different times, were analyzed. Our results show that the choice of genetic marker had a profound effect on the interpretation of genotyping results associated with N. gonorrhoeae. The concatenated sequences of the housekeeping genes preserved the genetic relatedness of closely related isolates, enabling detection of the predominant strains circulating within a community (Saskatchewan, Canada) over an extended period of time. In contrast, a genetic marker based on antigen gene, porB, may lead to a failure to detect these predominant circulating strains. Based on the analysis of the DNA sequences of the 10 housekeeping genes, we identified two major clonal complexes, CC33 and CC22, which comprised STs from China, and Argentina as well as two STs from Canada. Several minor clonal complexes were observed among isolates from Saskatchewan. eBURST analysis suggested that the majority of the tested gonococcal isolates from Saskatchewan, Canada were endemic, with only a couple of genotypes introduced.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere28259
JournalPloS one
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 7 2011


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