Molecular Characteristics and Global Spread of Mycobacterium tuberculosis with a Western Cape F11 Genotype
In order to fully understand the global tuberculosis (TB) epidemic it is important to investigate the population structure and dissemination of the causative agent that drives the epidemic. Mycobacterium tuberculosis strain family 11 (F11) genotype isolates (found in 21.4% of all infected patients) are at least as successful as the Beijing genotype family isolates (16.5%) in contributing to the TB problem in some Western Cape communities of South Africa. This study describes key molecular characteristics that define the F11 genotype. A data-mining approach coupled with additional molecular analysis showed that members of F11 can easily and uniquely be identified by PCR-based techniques such as spoligotyping and dot blot screening for a specific rrs491 polymorphism. Isolates of F11 not only are a major contributor to the TB epidemic in South Africa but also are present in four different continents and at least 25 other countries in the world. Careful study of dominant compared to rare strains should provide clues to their success and possibly provide new ideas for combating TB.