July 19, 2019  |  

The origin of the Haitian cholera outbreak strain.

Although cholera has been present in Latin America since 1991, it had not been epidemic in Haiti for at least 100 years. Recently, however, there has been a severe outbreak of cholera in Haiti.We used third-generation single-molecule real-time DNA sequencing to determine the genome sequences of 2 clinical Vibrio cholerae isolates from the current outbreak in Haiti, 1 strain that caused cholera in Latin America in 1991, and 2 strains isolated in South Asia in 2002 and 2008. Using primary sequence data, we compared the genomes of these 5 strains and a set of previously obtained partial genomic sequences of 23 diverse strains of V. cholerae to assess the likely origin of the cholera outbreak in Haiti.Both single-nucleotide variations and the presence and structure of hypervariable chromosomal elements indicate that there is a close relationship between the Haitian isolates and variant V. cholerae El Tor O1 strains isolated in Bangladesh in 2002 and 2008. In contrast, analysis of genomic variation of the Haitian isolates reveals a more distant relationship with circulating South American isolates.The Haitian epidemic is probably the result of the introduction, through human activity, of a V. cholerae strain from a distant geographic source. (Funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.).


July 19, 2019  |  

Origins of the E. coli strain causing an outbreak of hemolytic-uremic syndrome in Germany.

A large outbreak of diarrhea and the hemolytic-uremic syndrome caused by an unusual serotype of Shiga-toxin-producing Escherichia coli (O104:H4) began in Germany in May 2011. As of July 22, a large number of cases of diarrhea caused by Shiga-toxin-producing E. coli have been reported–3167 without the hemolytic-uremic syndrome (16 deaths) and 908 with the hemolytic-uremic syndrome (34 deaths)–indicating that this strain is notably more virulent than most of the Shiga-toxin-producing E. coli strains. Preliminary genetic characterization of the outbreak strain suggested that, unlike most of these strains, it should be classified within the enteroaggregative pathotype of E. coli.We used third-generation, single-molecule, real-time DNA sequencing to determine the complete genome sequence of the German outbreak strain, as well as the genome sequences of seven diarrhea-associated enteroaggregative E. coli serotype O104:H4 strains from Africa and four enteroaggregative E. coli reference strains belonging to other serotypes. Genomewide comparisons were performed with the use of these enteroaggregative E. coli genomes, as well as those of 40 previously sequenced E. coli isolates.The enteroaggregative E. coli O104:H4 strains are closely related and form a distinct clade among E. coli and enteroaggregative E. coli strains. However, the genome of the German outbreak strain can be distinguished from those of other O104:H4 strains because it contains a prophage encoding Shiga toxin 2 and a distinct set of additional virulence and antibiotic-resistance factors.Our findings suggest that horizontal genetic exchange allowed for the emergence of the highly virulent Shiga-toxin-producing enteroaggregative E. coli O104:H4 strain that caused the German outbreak. More broadly, these findings highlight the way in which the plasticity of bacterial genomes facilitates the emergence of new pathogens.


July 19, 2019  |  

New insights into dissemination and variation of the health care-associated pathogen Acinetobacter baumannii from genomic analysis.

Acinetobacter baumannii is a globally important nosocomial pathogen characterized by an increasing incidence of multidrug resistance. Routes of dissemination and gene flow among health care facilities are poorly resolved and are important for understanding the epidemiology of A. baumannii, minimizing disease transmission, and improving patient outcomes. We used whole-genome sequencing to assess diversity and genome dynamics in 49 isolates from one United States hospital system during one year from 2007 to 2008. Core single-nucleotide-variant-based phylogenetic analysis revealed multiple founder strains and multiple independent strains recovered from the same patient yet was insufficient to fully resolve strain relationships, where gene content and insertion sequence patterns added additional discriminatory power. Gene content comparisons illustrated extensive and redundant antibiotic resistance gene carriage and direct evidence of gene transfer, recombination, gene loss, and mutation. Evidence of barriers to gene flow among hospital components was not found, suggesting complex mixing of strains and a large reservoir of A. baumannii strains capable of colonizing patients.Genome sequencing was used to characterize multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii strains from one United States hospital system during a 1-year period to better understand how A. baumannii strains that cause infection are related to one another. Extensive variation in gene content was found, even among strains that were very closely related phylogenetically and epidemiologically. Several mechanisms contributed to this diversity, including transfer of mobile genetic elements, mobilization of insertion sequences, insertion sequence-mediated deletions, and genome-wide homologous recombination. Variation in gene content, however, lacked clear spatial or temporal patterns, suggesting a diverse pool of circulating strains with considerable interaction between strains and hospital locations. Widespread genetic variation among strains from the same hospital and even the same patient, particularly involving antibiotic resistance genes, reinforces the need for molecular diagnostic testing and genomic analysis to determine resistance profiles, rather than a reliance primarily on strain typing and antimicrobial resistance phenotypes for epidemiological studies.


July 19, 2019  |  

Population structure of KPC-producing Klebsiella pneumoniae isolates from midwestern U.S. hospitals.

Genome sequencing of carbapenem-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae isolates from regional U.S. hospitals was used to characterize strain diversity and the bla(KPC) genetic context. A phylogeny based on core single-nucleotide variants (SNVs) supports a division of sequence type 258 (ST258) into two distinct groups. The primary differences between the groups are in the capsular polysaccharide locus (cps) and their plasmid contents. A strict association between clade and KPC variant was found. The bla(KPC) gene was found on variants of two plasmid backbones. This study indicates that highly similar K. pneumoniae subpopulations coexist within the same hospitals over time. Copyright © 2014, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.


July 19, 2019  |  

Insertion sequence IS26 reorganizes plasmids in clinically isolated multidrug-resistant bacteria by replicative transposition.

Carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae (CPE), which are resistant to most or all known antibiotics, constitute a global threat to public health. Transposable elements are often associated with antibiotic resistance determinants, suggesting a role in the emergence of resistance. One insertion sequence, IS26, is frequently associated with resistance determinants, but its role remains unclear. We have analyzed the genomic contexts of 70 IS26 copies in several clinical and surveillance CPE isolates from the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center. We used target site duplications and their patterns as guides and found that a large fraction of plasmid reorganizations result from IS26 replicative transpositions, including replicon fusions, DNA inversions, and deletions. Replicative transposition could also be inferred for transposon Tn4401, which harbors the carbapenemase blaKPC gene. Thus, replicative transposition is important in the ongoing reorganization of plasmids carrying multidrug-resistant determinants, an observation that carries substantial clinical and epidemiological implications for understanding how such extreme drug resistance phenotypes evolve.Although IS26 is frequently reported to reside in resistance plasmids of clinical isolates, the characteristic hallmark of transposition, target site duplication (TSD), is generally not observed, raising questions about the mode of transposition for IS26. The previous observation of cointegrate formation during transposition implies that IS26 transposes via a replicative mechanism. The other possible outcome of replicative transposition is DNA inversion or deletion, when transposition occurs intramolecularly, and this would also generate a specific TSD pattern that might also serve as supporting evidence for the transposition mechanism. The numerous examples we present here demonstrate that replicative transposition, used by many mobile elements (including IS26 and Tn4401), is prevalent in the plasmids of clinical isolates and results in significant plasmid reorganization. This study also provides a method to trace the evolution of resistance plasmids based on TSD patterns. Copyright © 2015 He et al.


July 19, 2019  |  

Genomic epidemiology of hypervirulent serogroup W, ST-11 Neisseria meningitidis

Neisseria meningitidis is a leading bacterial cause of sepsis and meningitis globally with dynamic strain distribution over time. Beginning with an epidemic among Hajj pilgrims in 2000, serogroup W (W) sequence type (ST) 11 emerged as a leading cause of epidemic meningitis in the African ‘meningitis belt’ and endemic cases in South America, Europe, Middle East and China. Previous genotyping studies were unable to reliably discriminate sporadic W ST-11 strains in circulation since 1970 from the Hajj outbreak strain (Hajj clone). It is also unclear what proportion of more recent W ST-11 disease clusters are caused by direct descendants of the Hajj clone. Whole genome sequences of 270 meningococcal strains isolated from patients with invasive meningococcal disease globally from 1970 to 2013 were compared using whole genome phylogenetic and major antigen-encoding gene sequence analyses. We found that all W ST-11 strains were descendants of an ancestral strain that had undergone unique capsular switching events. The Hajj clone and its descendants were distinct from other W ST-11 strains in that they shared a common antigen gene profile and had undergone recombination involving virulence genes encoding factor H binding protein, nitric oxide reductase, and nitrite reductase. These data demonstrate that recent acquisition of a distinct antigen-encoding gene profile and variations in meningococcal virulence genes was associated with the emergence of the Hajj clone. Importantly, W ST-11 strains unrelated to the Hajj outbreak contribute a significant proportion of W ST-11 cases globally. This study helps illuminate genomic factors associated with meningococcal strain emergence and evolution.


July 19, 2019  |  

Quantifying influenza virus diversity and transmission in humans.

Influenza A virus is characterized by high genetic diversity. However, most of what is known about influenza evolution has come from consensus sequences sampled at the epidemiological scale that only represent the dominant virus lineage within each infected host. Less is known about the extent of within-host virus diversity and what proportion of this diversity is transmitted between individuals. To characterize virus variants that achieve sustainable transmission in new hosts, we examined within-host virus genetic diversity in household donor-recipient pairs from the first wave of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic when seasonal H3N2 was co-circulating. Although the same variants were found in multiple members of the community, the relative frequencies of variants fluctuated, with patterns of genetic variation more similar within than between households. We estimated the effective population size of influenza A virus across donor-recipient pairs to be approximately 100-200 contributing members, which enabled the transmission of multiple lineages, including antigenic variants.


July 19, 2019  |  

Detection and whole genome sequencing of carbapenemase-producing Aeromonas hydrophila isolated from routine perirectal surveillance culture.

Perirectal surveillance cultures and a stool culture grew Aeromonas species from three patients over a six-week period without epidemiological links. Detection of the blaKPC-2 gene in one isolate prompted inclusion of non-Enterobacteriaceae in our surveillance culture workup. Whole genome sequencing confirmed isolates were unrelated, and provided data for Aeromonas reference genomes. Copyright © 2016, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.


July 19, 2019  |  

A method for near full-length amplification and sequencing for six hepatitis C virus genotypes.

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a rapidly evolving RNA virus that has been classified into seven genotypes. All HCV genotypes cause chronic hepatitis, which ultimately leads to liver diseases such as cirrhosis. The genotypes are unevenly distributed across the globe, with genotypes 1 and 3 being the most prevalent. Until recently, molecular epidemiological studies of HCV evolution within the host and at the population level have been limited to the analyses of partial viral genome segments, as it has been technically challenging to amplify and sequence the full-length of the 9.6 kb HCV genome. Although recent improvements have been made in full genome sequencing methodologies, these protocols are still either limited to a specific genotype or cost-inefficient.In this study we describe a genotype-specific protocol for the amplification and sequencing of the near-full length genome of all six major HCV genotypes. We applied this protocol to 122 HCV positive clinical samples, and had a successful genome amplification rate of 90 %, when the viral load was greater than 15,000 IU/ml. The assay was shown to have a detection limit of 1-3 cDNA copies per reaction. The method was tested with both Illumina and PacBio single molecule, real-time (SMRT) sequencing technologies. Illumina sequencing resulted in deep coverage and allowed detection of rare variants as well as HCV co-infection with multiple genotypes. The application of the method with PacBio RS resulted in sequence reads greater than 9 kb that covered the near full-length HCV amplicon in a single read and enabled analysis of the near full-length quasispecies.The protocol described herein can be utilised for rapid amplification and sequencing of the near-full length HCV genome in a cost efficient manner suitable for a wide range of applications.


July 19, 2019  |  

Initial assessment of the molecular epidemiology of blaNDM-1 in Colombia.

We report complete genome sequences of fourblaNDM-1-harboring Gram-negative multidrug resistant (MDR) isolates from Colombia. TheblaNDM-1genes were located 193Kb-Inc FIA, 178Kb-Inc A/C2 and 47Kb (unknown Inc type) plasmids. MLST revealed that isolates belong to ST10 (Escherichia coli), ST392 (Klebsiella pneumoniae), and ST322 and ST464 (Acinetobacter baumanniiandA. nosocomialis, respectively). Our analysis identified that the Inc A/C2 plasmid inE. colicontained a novel complex transposon (Tn125and Tn5393with 3 copies ofblaNDM-1) and a recombination “hotspot” for the acquisition of new resistance determinants. Copyright © 2016, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.


July 19, 2019  |  

The establishment and diversification of epidemic-associated serogroup W meningococcus in the African meningitis belt, 1994 to 2012.

Epidemics of invasive meningococcal disease (IMD) caused by meningococcal serogroup A have been eliminated from the sub-Saharan African so-called “meningitis belt” by the meningococcal A conjugate vaccine (MACV), and yet, other serogroups continue to cause epidemics. Neisseria meningitidis serogroup W remains a major cause of disease in the region, with most isolates belonging to clonal complex 11 (CC11). Here, the genetic variation within and between epidemic-associated strains was assessed by sequencing the genomes of 92 N. meningitidis serogroup W isolates collected between 1994 and 2012 from both sporadic and epidemic IMD cases, 85 being from selected meningitis belt countries. The sequenced isolates belonged to either CC175 (n = 9) or CC11 (n = 83). The CC11 N. meningitidis serogroup W isolates belonged to a single lineage comprising four major phylogenetic subclades. Separate CC11 N. meningitidis serogroup W subclades were associated with the 2002 and 2012 Burkina Faso epidemics. The subclade associated with the 2012 epidemic included isolates found in Burkina Faso and Mali during 2011 and 2012, which descended from a strain very similar to the Hajj (Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca)-related Saudi Arabian outbreak strain from 2000. The phylogeny of isolates from 2012 reflected their geographic origin within Burkina Faso, with isolates from the Malian border region being closely related to the isolates from Mali. Evidence of ongoing evolution, international transmission, and strain replacement stresses the importance of maintaining N. meningitidis surveillance in Africa following the MACV implementation. IMPORTANCE Meningococcal disease (meningitis and bloodstream infections) threatens millions of people across the meningitis belt of sub-Saharan Africa. A vaccine introduced in 2010 protects against Africa’s then-most common cause of meningococcal disease, N. meningitidis serogroup A. However, other serogroups continue to cause epidemics in the region-including serogroup W. The rapid identification of strains that have been associated with prior outbreaks can improve the assessment of outbreak risk and enable timely preparation of public health responses, including vaccination. Phylogenetic analysis of newly sequenced serogroup W strains isolated from 1994 to 2012 identified two groups of strains linked to large epidemics in Burkina Faso, one being descended from a strain that caused an outbreak during the Hajj pilgrimage in 2000. We find that applying whole-genome sequencing to meningococcal disease surveillance collections improves the discrimination among strains, even within a single nation-wide epidemic, which can be used to better understand pathogen spread.


July 19, 2019  |  

Characterization of hepatitis C virus (HCV) envelope diversification from acute to chronic infection within a sexually transmitted HCV cluster by using single-molecule, real-time sequencing.

In contrast to other available next-generation sequencing platforms, PacBio single-molecule, real-time (SMRT) sequencing has the advantage of generating long reads albeit with a relatively higher error rate in unprocessed data. Using this platform, we longitudinally sampled and sequenced the hepatitis C virus (HCV) envelope genome region (1,680 nucleotides [nt]) from individuals belonging to a cluster of sexually transmitted cases. All five subjects were coinfected with HIV-1 and a closely related strain of HCV genotype 4d. In total, 50 samples were analyzed by using SMRT sequencing. By using 7 passes of circular consensus sequencing, the error rate was reduced to 0.37%, and the median number of sequences was 612 per sample. A further reduction of insertions was achieved by alignment against a sample-specific reference sequence. However, in vitro recombination during PCR amplification could not be excluded. Phylogenetic analysis supported close relationships among HCV sequences from the four male subjects and subsequent transmission from one subject to his female partner. Transmission was characterized by a strong genetic bottleneck. Viral genetic diversity was low during acute infection and increased upon progression to chronicity but subsequently fluctuated during chronic infection, caused by the alternate detection of distinct coexisting lineages. SMRT sequencing combines long reads with sufficient depth for many phylogenetic analyses and can therefore provide insights into within-host HCV evolutionary dynamics without the need for haplotype reconstruction using statistical algorithms.IMPORTANCE Next-generation sequencing has revolutionized the study of genetically variable RNA virus populations, but for phylogenetic and evolutionary analyses, longer sequences than those generated by most available platforms, while minimizing the intrinsic error rate, are desired. Here, we demonstrate for the first time that PacBio SMRT sequencing technology can be used to generate full-length HCV envelope sequences at the single-molecule level, providing a data set with large sequencing depth for the characterization of intrahost viral dynamics. The selection of consensus reads derived from at least 7 full circular consensus sequencing rounds significantly reduced the intrinsic high error rate of this method. We used this method to genetically characterize a unique transmission cluster of sexually transmitted HCV infections, providing insight into the distinct evolutionary pathways in each patient over time and identifying the transmission-associated genetic bottleneck as well as fluctuations in viral genetic diversity over time, accompanied by dynamic shifts in viral subpopulations. Copyright © 2017 American Society for Microbiology.


July 7, 2019  |  

Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemase (KPC)-producing K. pneumoniae at a single institution: insights into endemicity from whole-genome sequencing.

The global emergence of Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemase-producing K. pneumoniae (KPC-Kp) multilocus sequence type ST258 is widely recognized. Less is known about the molecular and epidemiological details of non-ST258 K. pneumoniae in the setting of an outbreak mediated by an endemic plasmid. We describe the interplay of blaKPC plasmids and K. pneumoniae strains and their relationship to the location of acquisition in a U.S. health care institution. Whole-genome sequencing (WGS) analysis was applied to KPC-Kp clinical isolates collected from a single institution over 5 years following the introduction of blaKPC in August 2007, as well as two plasmid transformants. KPC-Kp from 37 patients yielded 16 distinct sequence types (STs). Two novel conjugative blaKPC plasmids (pKPC_UVA01 and pKPC_UVA02), carried by the hospital index case, accounted for the presence of blaKPC in 21/37 (57%) subsequent cases. Thirteen (35%) isolates represented an emergent lineage, ST941, which contained pKPC_UVA01 in 5/13 (38%) and pKPC_UVA02 in 6/13 (46%) cases. Seven (19%) isolates were the epidemic KPC-Kp strain, ST258, mostly imported from elsewhere and not carrying pKPC_UVA01 or pKPC_UVA02. Using WGS-based analysis of clinical isolates and plasmid transformants, we demonstrate the unexpected dispersal of blaKPC to many non-ST258 lineages in a hospital through spread of at least two novel blaKPC plasmids. In contrast, ST258 KPC-Kp was imported into the institution on numerous occasions, with other blaKPC plasmid vectors and without sustained transmission. Instead, a newly recognized KPC-Kp strain, ST941, became associated with both novel blaKPC plasmids and spread locally, making it a future candidate for clinical persistence and dissemination. Copyright © 2015, Mathers et al.


July 7, 2019  |  

Characterization of the effect of the histidine kinase CovS on response regulator phosphorylation in group A Streptococcus.

Two-component gene regulatory systems (TCSs) are a major mechanism by which bacteria respond to environmental stimuli and thus are critical to infectivity. For example, the control of virulence regulator/sensor kinase (CovRS) TCS is central to the virulence of the major human pathogen group A Streptococcus (GAS). Here, we used a combination of quantitative in vivo phosphorylation assays, isoallelic strains that varied by only a single amino acid in CovS, and transcriptome analyses to characterize the impact of CovS on CovR phosphorylation and GAS global gene expression. We discovered that CovS primarily serves to phosphorylate CovR, thereby resulting in the repression of virulence factor-encoding genes. However, a GAS strain selectively deficient in CovS phosphatase activity had a distinct transcriptome relative to that of its parental strain, indicating that both CovS kinase and phosphatase activities influence the CovR phosphorylation status. Surprisingly, compared to a serotype M3 strain, serotype M1 GAS strains had high levels of phosphorylated CovR, low transcript levels of CovR-repressed genes, and strikingly different responses to environmental cues. Moreover, the inactivation of CovS in the serotype M1 background resulted in a greater decrease in phosphorylated CovR levels and a greater increase in the transcript levels of CovR-repressed genes than did CovS inactivation in a serotype M3 strain. These data clarify the influence of CovS on the CovR phosphorylation status and provide insight into why serotype M1 GAS strains have high rates of spontaneous mutations in covS during invasive GAS infection, thus providing a link between TCS molecular function and the epidemiology of deadly bacterial infections. Copyright © 2015, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.


July 7, 2019  |  

Phylogeographical analysis of the dominant multidrug-resistant H58 clade of Salmonella Typhi identifies inter- and intracontinental transmission events.

The emergence of multidrug-resistant (MDR) typhoid is a major global health threat affecting many countries where the disease is endemic. Here whole-genome sequence analysis of 1,832 Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi (S. Typhi) identifies a single dominant MDR lineage, H58, that has emerged and spread throughout Asia and Africa over the last 30 years. Our analysis identifies numerous transmissions of H58, including multiple transfers from Asia to Africa and an ongoing, unrecognized MDR epidemic within Africa itself. Notably, our analysis indicates that H58 lineages are displacing antibiotic-sensitive isolates, transforming the global population structure of this pathogen. H58 isolates can harbor a complex MDR element residing either on transmissible IncHI1 plasmids or within multiple chromosomal integration sites. We also identify new mutations that define the H58 lineage. This phylogeographical analysis provides a framework to facilitate global management of MDR typhoid and is applicable to similar MDR lineages emerging in other bacterial species.


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