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Comparative analysis of the genomes of intestinal spirochetes of human and animal origin.

  • M Coene
  • A M Agliano
  • A T Paques
  • P Cattani
  • G Dettori
  • A Sanna
  • C Cocito
Publication Date
Jan 01, 1989


The aim of the present work was to compare the genomes of 21 strains of intestinal spirochetes, which were isolated from patients suffering intestinal disorders, with those of Treponema hyodysenteriae (strain P18), the known etiological agent of swine dysentery (bloody scours), and of a nonpathogenic strain (M1) of Treponema innocens. The percent guanine-plus-cytosine value of the 23 DNAs was found to be 25.5 to 30.1, as determined by a double-labeling procedure based on nick-translation by DNA polymerase I. The genome size of two spirochetal strains, of human and porcine origin, was found to be similar (4 x 10(6) base pairs) and close to that of the reference bacterium Escherichia coli (4.2 x 10(6) base pairs). Restriction analysis showed the presence of two modified bases in spirochetal DNA. Methyladenine was present in the GATC sequence of DNA from 15 spirochetes of human origin, and methylcytosine was present in several sequences occurring in all strains. The DNA of T. hyodysenteriae displayed a 30 to 100% homology with respect to that of 21 spirochetes from humans, thus suggesting the occurrence of a genetic heterogeneity in the latter group. These data indicate that the intestinal spirochetes analyzed in the present work are related; hence there is a possibility of domestic animals being reservoirs of microorganisms pathogenic for humans. A classification of intestinal treponemes into subgroups has been proposed on the basis of restriction analysis and hybridization experiments.

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