J Bacteriol Virol.  2016 Dec;46(4):275-282. 10.4167/jbv.2016.46.4.275.

Isolation and Genetic Characterization of Orientia tsutsugamushi from Scrub Typhus Patients in Gyeongsangnam-do, Korea

  • 1Department of Microbiology, Gyeongsang National University School of Medicine, Jinju, Korea. wklee@gnu.kr mkshin@gnu.kr
  • 2Department of Internal Medicine, Gyeongsang National University School of Medicine, Jinju, Korea.
  • 3Department of Emergency Medicine, Gyeongsang National University School of Medicine, Jinju, Korea.
  • 4Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
  • 5Pathogen Resource TF, Center for Infectious Diseases, Korea National Institute of Health, Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Cheongju, Korea.
  • 6Department of Laboratory Medicine, Chonbuk National University Medical School, Jeonju, Korea.
  • 7Department of Laboratory Medicine, Kyungpook National University School of Medicine, Daegu, Korea.
  • 8Department of Microbiology, Kyungpook National University School of Medicine, Daegu, Korea.


Orientia tsutsugamushi (O. tsutsugamushi), which is endemic to an Asia-Pacific region, has increased its incidence and caused annually around 10 thousand patients infected with scrub typhus in Korea in the past several years. In the present study, we isolated 44 O. tsutsugamushi from the patients with febrile illness accompanied with or without an eschar in Gyeongsangnam-do, Korea. These isolates were characterized by genetic analysis of the major outer membrane protein, the 56-kDa type-specific antigen (tsa56), which is unique to O. tsutsugamushi. Two types of sequences of tsa56, designated by JJ1 and JJ2, were determined from 37 and 7 isolates of the 44 isolates, respectively. JJ1 and JJ2 showed 74.7~90.8% identity in nucleotide sequence and 66.1~90.5% identity in amino acid sequence with 33 reference strains except for Boryong and Kuroki. JJ1 and JJ2 had 100 and 99.9% nucleotide identity to Boryong strain, and 99.9 and 99.8% to Kuroki, which has been known to be similar to Boryong, respectively. In addition, they showed 77.9~ 81.4% nucleotide identity with the cluster of Gilliam-related genotypes, whereas they showed higher nucleotide identity (89.6~90.8%) with the cluster of Karp-related genotypes. To our knowledge, this is the first report to isolate O. tsutsugamushi and characterize their genotype as the Boryong in Jinju and West Gyeongsangnam-do, Korea, even though it has been reported that the Boryong was the predominant genotype in isolates from chiggers, domestic rodents, and patients in the southern part of Korea. Furthermore, our isolates could be useful source to study on the pathophysiology and epidemiology of scrub typhus in Korea.


Scrub typhus; Orientia tsutsugamushi; 56-kDa type-specific antigen; tsa56; West Gyeongsangnam-do

MeSH Terms

Amino Acid Sequence
Base Sequence
Membrane Proteins
Orientia tsutsugamushi*
Scrub Typhus*
Membrane Proteins
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