Fusobacterium nucleatum is classified into five subspecies that inhabit the human oral cavity (F. nucleatum subsp. nucleatum, F. nucleatum subsp. polymorphum, F. nucleatum subsp. fusiforme, F. nucleatum subsp. vincentii, and F. nucleatum subsp. animalis) based on several phenotypic characteristics and DNA-DNA hybridization patterns. However, the methods for detecting or discriminating the clinical isolates of F. nucleatum at the subspecies levels are laborious, expensive, and time-consuming. Therefore, in this study, the nucleotide sequences of the RNA polymerase β-subunit gene (rpoB) and zinc protease gene were analyzed to discriminate the subspecies of F. nucleatum. The partial sequences of rpoB (approximately 2,419 bp), the zinc protease gene (878 bp), and 16S rRNA genes (approximately 1,500 bp) of the type strains of five subspecies, 28 clinical isolates of F. nucleatum, and 10 strains of F. periodonticum (as a control group) were determined and analyzed. The phylogenetic data showed that the rpoB and zinc protease gene sequences clearly delineated the subspecies of F. nucleatum and provided higher resolution than the 16S rRNA gene sequences in this respect. According to the phylogenetic analysis of rpoB and the zinc protease gene, F. nucleatum subsp. vincentii and F. nucleatum subsp. fusiforme might be classified into a single subspecies. Five clinical isolates could be delineated as a new subspecies of F. nucleatum. The results suggest that rpoB and the zinc protease gene are efficient targets for the discrimination and taxonomic analysis of the subspecies of F. nucleatum.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Microbiology (medical)