Isolation and characterization of a new strain of Ehrlichia chaffeensis from a patient with nearly fatal monocytic ehrlichiosis

J. S. Dumler, S. M. Chen, K. Asanovich, E. Trigiani, V. L. Popov, D. H. Walker

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66 Scopus citations


Ehrlichia chaffeensis is the causative agent of human monocytic ehrlichiosis, a disease that ranges in severity from asymptomatic infection to death. Only one isolate of E. chaffeensis has been made, the Arkansas strain, upon which all characterizations of the agent of human monocytic ehrlichiosis have been based. We report the isolation and characterization of a new strain of E. chaffeensis, the 91HE17 strain, which was cultivated from a patient with a nearly fatal illness. The new isolate grows best in culture with careful control of pH. The two isolates are nearly identical as determined by light and electron microscopy and have significant antigenic identity in fluorescent-antibody and immunoblot assays using polyclonal antisera and the E. chaffeensis-specific monoclonal antibody 1A9. Isolate 91HE17 had 99.9% nucleotide sequence identity with the Arkansas strain in the 16S rRNA gene. Parts of the Escherichia coli GroE operon homologs had identical restriction enzyme digestion patterns, and a 425-bp region of the GroEL gene had at least 99.8% sequence identity between the E. chaffeensis Arkansas and 91HE17 strains. Isolate 91HE17 lacked an epitope identified in E. chaffeensis Arkansas by the monoclonal antibody 6A1. This new E. chaffeensis isolate is very similar to the Arkansas strain and provides the opportunity to substantiate the existence of diversity among ehrlichiae which infect humans. Specific factors which differ among strains may then be compared to assess their potential contributions toward cellular pathogenicity and ultimately toward the development of disease in humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1704-1711
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of clinical microbiology
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)


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