Free Access
Vet. Res.
Volume 40, Number 3, May-June 2009
Number of page(s) 16
Published online 18 February 2009
How to cite this article Vet. Res. (2009) 40:22
How to cite this article: Vet. Res. (2009) 40:22
DOI: 10.1051/vetres/2009005


Molecular findings and approaches spotlighting Mycobacterium bovis persistence in cattle

Ángel H. ÁLvarez, Ciro Estrada-Chávez and Mario Alberto Flores-Valdez

Centro de Investigación y Asistencía en Tecnologá y diseño del Estado de Jalisco (CIATEJ) A.C., Unidad de Biotecnología, Av. Normalistas 800, Col. Colinas de la Normal, Guadalajara, Jalisco, C.P. 44270, México

Received 22 September 2008; accepted 11 February 2009; published online 18 February 2009

Abstract - Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) and Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis) are the etiological agents of human and bovine tuberculosis (TB, bTB) respectively, and share genetic identity over 99% at the whole genome level. Progress has been made towards explaining how mycobacteria and their infected hosts remain in balance without producing clinical symptoms of disease, a phenomenon referred to as latency or persistence, which can be mimicked by certain in vitro conditions. Latency/persistence has mainly been studied using Mtb, where the two-component signalling system, dosRS, has been assigned an instrumental role, and even constitutes the current basis for development of new diagnostic methods and treatment addressing this particular stage of TB. M. bovis conserves homolog genes that in Mtb play a role in human latent TB infection and that, by analogy, would allow it to enter a persistent state in infected cattle; nevertheless, little attention has been paid to this stage in bovine hosts. We suggest that many of the advances acquired through the study of Mtb can and should be taken into consideration by research groups and veterinary professionals dealing with bTB. The study of the infection in bovines, paying particular attention to defining the molecular and cellular markers of a M. bovis persistent infection in cattle, presents great opportunities for the development and trial of new diagnostic tests and vaccines, tools that will surely help in promoting eradication of bTB in high-burden settings.

Key words: tuberculosis / Mycobacterium / persistence / latency / DosR

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© INRA, EDP Sciences 2009