Leprosy continues to be prevalent in some mountainous regions of China, and genotypes of leprosy strains endemic to the country are not known. Mycobacterium lepromatosis is a new species that was discovered in Mexico in 2008, and it remains unclear whether this species exists in China. Here, we conducted PCR- restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis to classify genotypes of 85 DNA samples collected from patients from 18 different provinces. All 171 DNA samples from skin biopsies of leprosy patients were tested for the presence of Mycobacterium leprae and Mycobacterium lepromatosis by amplifying the 16S rRNA gene using nested PCR, followed by DNA sequencing. The new species M. lepromatosis was not found among the 171 specimens from leprosy patients in 22 provinces in China. However, we found three SNP genotypes among 85 leprosy patients. A mutation at C251T in the 16S rRNA gene was found in 76% of the strains. We also found that the strains that showed the 16S rRNA C251T mutation belonged to SNP type 3, whereas strains without the point mutation belonged to SNP type 1. The SNP type 3 leprosy strains were observed in patients from both the inner and coastal regions of China, but the SNP type 1 strains were focused only in the coastal region. This indicated that the SNP type 3 leprosy strains were more prevalent than the SNP type 1 strains in China. In addition, the 16S rRNA gene sequence mutation at C251T also indicated a difference in the geographical distribution of the strains. To our knowledge, this is the first report of a new polymorphism in 16S rRNA gene in M. leprae in China. Our findings shed light on the prevalent genotypes and provide insight about leprosy transmission that are important for leprosy control in China.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)