Pneumocystis spp. infect the lungs of multiple mammalian species and cause disease in immunosuppressed individuals. The Pneumocystis isolates that have been studied to date fall into two major clades, those from primates and those from rodents. Within each of these clades, different species have been described on the basis of host specificity and differences in sequence and morphology. Here, we demonstrate that dexamethasone immunosuppression consistently results in histologically apparent lung infection in gerbils (28/35 animals). Sequence analysis of the 18S, 5.8S and internal transcribed spacer regions of the rDNA and a portion of the mitochondrial large subunit rDNA demonstrated that this gerbil Pneumocystis is grouped with other rodent Pneumocystis spp., but is distinct from them. Our results suggest that gerbil Pneumocystis differs sufficiently from Pneumocystis species found in other rodents to be considered a separate species.
- 18S rRNA gene
- 5.8S rRNA gene
- internal transcribed spacers (ITS)
- mitochondrial large subunit (mtLS) rRNA gene