A case of sporotrichosis caused by different Sporothrix brasiliensis strains: mycological, molecular, and virulence analyses

BACKGROUND Sporotrichosis is a subcutaneous mycosis caused by dimorphic pathogenic fungi belonging to the Sporothrix genus. Pathogenic Sporothrix species typically produce melanin, which is known to be a virulence factor. OBJECTIVES The aim of this study was to perform phenotypic, genotypic, and virulence analyses of two distinct Sporothrix brasiliensis strains isolated from the same lesion on a patient from Rio de Janeiro. METHODS AND FINDINGS Genotypic analyses by partial sequencing of the calmodulin, β-tubulin, and chitin synthase genes, as well as polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-fingerprinting by T3B, M13, and GACA, showed that the isolates were very similar but not identical. Both isolates had similar phenotypic characteristics and effectively produced melanin in their yeast forms, accounting for their ability of causing disease in a murine sporotrichosis model. Remarkably, isolate B was albino in its environmental form but caused more severe disease than the pigmented A isolate. CONCLUSIONS These findings indicate that the patient was infected by two genetically and biologically distinct S. brasiliensis that vary in their production of melanin in their environmental forms. The results underscore the importance of characterizing phenotypically different isolates found in the same clinical specimen or patient.