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Detection and strain typing of ancient Mycobacterium leprae from a medieval leprosy hospital

Detection and strain typing of ancient Mycobacterium leprae from a medieval leprosy hospital
Detection and strain typing of ancient Mycobacterium leprae from a medieval leprosy hospital
Nine burials excavated from the Magdalen Hill Archaeological Research Project (MHARP) in Winchester, UK, showing skeletal signs of lepromatous leprosy (LL) have been studied using a multidisciplinary approach including osteological, geochemical and biomolecular techniques. DNA from Mycobacterium leprae was amplified from all nine skeletons but not from control skeletons devoid of indicative pathology. In several specimens we corroborated the identification of M. leprae with detection of mycolic acids specific to the cell wall of M. leprae and persistent in the skeletal samples. In five cases, the preservation of the material allowed detailed genotyping using single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) and multiple locus variable number tandem repeat analysis (MLVA). Three of the five cases proved to be infected with SNP type 3I-1, ancestral to contemporary M. leprae isolates found in southern states of America and likely carried by European migrants. From the remaining two burials we identified, for the first time in the British Isles, the occurrence of SNP type 2F. Stable isotope analysis conducted on tooth enamel taken from two of the type 3I-1 and one of the type 2F remains revealed that all three individuals had probably spent their formative years in the Winchester area. Previously, type 2F has been implicated as the precursor strain that migrated from the Middle East to India and South-East Asia, subsequently evolving to type 1 strains. Thus we show that type 2F had also spread westwards to Britain by the early medieval period.
1932-6203
e62406
Taylor, G.M.
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Tucker, K.
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Butler, R.
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Pike, A.W.G.
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Lewis, J.
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Roffey, S.
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Marter, P.
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Lee, O. Y-C.
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Wu, H.H.T.
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Minnikin, D.E.
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Besra, G.S.
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Singh, P.
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Cole, S.T.
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Stewart, G.R.
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Taylor, G.M.
ba60edfd-15af-4b76-8034-15e496f84444
Tucker, K.
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Butler, R.
e164104d-4531-46e6-8861-377e8502197e
Pike, A.W.G.
e8603e20-0a89-4d57-a294-247b983fc857
Lewis, J.
b044562a-3f09-4fcf-8730-9bd21f63d1ad
Roffey, S.
36332839-d97e-4d73-9164-189143b8a58f
Marter, P.
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Lee, O. Y-C.
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Wu, H.H.T.
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Minnikin, D.E.
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Besra, G.S.
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Singh, P.
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Cole, S.T.
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Stewart, G.R.
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Taylor, G.M., Tucker, K., Butler, R., Pike, A.W.G., Lewis, J., Roffey, S., Marter, P., Lee, O. Y-C., Wu, H.H.T., Minnikin, D.E., Besra, G.S., Singh, P., Cole, S.T. and Stewart, G.R. (2013) Detection and strain typing of ancient Mycobacterium leprae from a medieval leprosy hospital. PLoS ONE, 8 (4), e62406. (doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0062406).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Nine burials excavated from the Magdalen Hill Archaeological Research Project (MHARP) in Winchester, UK, showing skeletal signs of lepromatous leprosy (LL) have been studied using a multidisciplinary approach including osteological, geochemical and biomolecular techniques. DNA from Mycobacterium leprae was amplified from all nine skeletons but not from control skeletons devoid of indicative pathology. In several specimens we corroborated the identification of M. leprae with detection of mycolic acids specific to the cell wall of M. leprae and persistent in the skeletal samples. In five cases, the preservation of the material allowed detailed genotyping using single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) and multiple locus variable number tandem repeat analysis (MLVA). Three of the five cases proved to be infected with SNP type 3I-1, ancestral to contemporary M. leprae isolates found in southern states of America and likely carried by European migrants. From the remaining two burials we identified, for the first time in the British Isles, the occurrence of SNP type 2F. Stable isotope analysis conducted on tooth enamel taken from two of the type 3I-1 and one of the type 2F remains revealed that all three individuals had probably spent their formative years in the Winchester area. Previously, type 2F has been implicated as the precursor strain that migrated from the Middle East to India and South-East Asia, subsequently evolving to type 1 strains. Thus we show that type 2F had also spread westwards to Britain by the early medieval period.

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Published date: 30 April 2013
Organisations: Archaeology

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Local EPrints ID: 352093
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/352093
ISSN: 1932-6203
PURE UUID: 941daa64-f9f2-42fe-8561-0e4912c9387a
ORCID for A.W.G. Pike: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-5610-8948

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Date deposited: 02 May 2013 11:52
Last modified: 10 Dec 2019 01:36

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Contributors

Author: G.M. Taylor
Author: K. Tucker
Author: R. Butler
Author: A.W.G. Pike ORCID iD
Author: J. Lewis
Author: S. Roffey
Author: P. Marter
Author: O. Y-C. Lee
Author: H.H.T. Wu
Author: D.E. Minnikin
Author: G.S. Besra
Author: P. Singh
Author: S.T. Cole
Author: G.R. Stewart

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