Molecular typing of Rickettsia akari

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Abstract

Rickettsia akari, an obligately intracellular bacterium, is the causative agent of the cosmopolitan urban disease rickettsialpox. R. akari is an atypical representative of spotted fever group rickettsiae (SFG) as it is associated with rodent mites rather than ticks or fleas; however, only limited information is available about the degree of genetic variability found among isolates of R. akari. We examined 13 isolates of R. akari from humans, rodents and mites in the USA, the former Soviet Union, and the former Yugoslavia made between 1946 and 2003 for diversity in their tandem repeat regions (TR) and intergenic regions (IGR). The 1.23 Mb genome of R. akari strain Hartford CWPP was analyzed using Tandem Repeat Finder software (http://tandem.bu.edu) and 374 different TRs were identified, with size variation from 1 to 483 bp and with TR copy numbers ranging between 21 and 1.9, respectively. No size polymorphisms were detected among the 11 TR regions examined from 5 open reading frames and 6 IGR. Eighteen non-TR IGR’s were amplified and sequenced for the same isolates comprising a total of 5.995 bp (0.49%) of the Hartford CWPP strain chromosome. Three single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) sites were detected in two IGR’s which permitted separation of the five R. akari isolates from Ukraine SSR from the other eight isolates. In conclusion, this is the first study reporting genetic heterogeneity among R. akari isolates of different geographic origins. Further exploration of this genetic diversity is needed to understand better the geographic distribution of R. akari and the epidemiology of rickettsialpox. The potential of mites as hosts for other rickettsial agents also needs further investigation.

About the authors

M. E. Eremeeva

Georgia Southern University

Author for correspondence.
Email: meremeeva@georgiasouthern.edu

Eremeeva Marina E., PhD, MD (Bioсhemistry), Professor, Laboratory Director, Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health

PO Box 8015, Statesboro, GA 30458

United States

M. M. Sturgeon

Rickettsial Zoonoses Branch, Division of Vector-Borne Diseases, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Email: mmsturgeon.mph@gmail.com

MPH, Training Fellow

Atlanta, Georgia

United States

J. K. Willard

Rickettsial Zoonoses Branch, Division of Vector-Borne Diseases, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Email: jwilard004@gmail.com

BS, Training Fellow

Atlanta, Georgia

United States

S. E. Karpathy

Rickettsial Zoonoses Branch, Division of Vector-Borne Diseases, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Email: evu2@cdc.gov

PhD, Microbiologist

Atlanta, Georgia

United States

A. Madan

Covance Genomics Laboratory

Email: anupmadan@gmail.com

PhD, Senior Research Scientist

Redmond, WA

United States

G. A. Dasch

Rickettsial Zoonoses Branch, Division of Vector-Borne Diseases, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Email: ged4@cdc.gov

PhD, Leading Microbiologist and Group Leader

Atlanta, Georgia

United States

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Copyright (c) 2020 Eremeeva M.E., Sturgeon M.M., Willard J.K., Karpathy S.E., Madan A., Dasch G.A.

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