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Characterization of Mycobacterium tuberculosis Complex DNAs from Egyptian Mummies by Spoligotyping

"Bone and soft tissue samples from 85 ancient Egyptian mummies were analyzed for the presence of ancient Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex DNA (aDNA) and further characterized by spoligotyping. The specimens were obtained from individuals from different tomb complexes in Thebes West, Upper Egypt, which were used for upper social class burials between the Middle Kingdom (since ca. 2050 BC) and the Late Period (until ca. 500 BC). A total of 25 samples provided a specific positive signal for the amplification of a 123-bp fragment of the repetitive element IS6110, indicating the presence of M. tuberculosis DNA. Further PCR-based tests for the identification of subspecies failed due to lack of specific amplification products in the historic tissue samples. Of these 25 positive specimens, 12 could be successfully characterized by spoligotyping. The spoligotyping signatures were compared to those in an international database. They all show either an M. tuberculosis or an M. africanum pattern, but none revealed an M. bovis-specific pattern. The results from a Middle Kingdom tomb (used exclusively between ca. 2050 and 1650 BC) suggest that these samples bear an M. africanum-type specific spoligotyping signature. The samples from later periods provided patterns typical for M. tuberculosis. This study clearly demonstrates that spoligotyping can be applied to historic tissue samples. In addition, our results do not support the theory that M. tuberculosis originated from the M. bovis type but, rather, suggest that human M. tuberculosis may have originated from a precursor complex probably related to M. africanum."

Author(s):  Zink, Albert R.; Christophe Sola, Udo Reischl, Waltraud Grabner, Nalin Rastogi, Hans Wolf, Andreas G. Nerlich
Format:  Article
Source:  From: Journal of Clinical Microbiology, January 2003, Vol. 41, No. 1, p. 359-367