July 19, 2019  |  

Novel katG mutations causing isoniazid resistance in clinical M. tuberculosis isolates.

We report the discovery and confirmation of 23 novel mutations with previously undocumented role in isoniazid (INH) drug resistance, in catalase-peroxidase (katG) gene of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) isolates. With these mutations, a synonymous mutation in fabG1 (g609a), and two canonical mutations, we were able to explain 98% of the phenotypic resistance observed in 366 clinical Mtb isolates collected from four high tuberculosis (TB)-burden countries: India, Moldova, Philippines, and South Africa. We conducted overlapping targeted and whole-genome sequencing for variant discovery in all clinical isolates with a variety of INH-resistant phenotypes. Our analysis showed that just two canonical mutations (katG 315AGC-ACC and inhA promoter-15C-T) identified 89.5% of resistance phenotypes in our collection. Inclusion of the 23 novel mutations reported here, and the previously documented point mutation in fabG1, increased the sensitivity of these mutations as markers of INH resistance to 98%. Only six (2%) of the 332 resistant isolates in our collection did not harbor one or more of these mutations. The third most prevalent substitution, at inhA promoter position -8, present in 39 resistant isolates, was of no diagnostic significance since it always co-occurred with katG 315. 79% of our isolates harboring novel mutations belong to genetic group 1 indicating a higher tendency for this group to go down an uncommon evolutionary path and evade molecular diagnostics. The results of this study contribute to our understanding of the mechanisms of INH resistance in Mtb isolates that lack the canonical mutations and could improve the sensitivity of next generation molecular diagnostics.


July 7, 2019  |  

BreakSeek: a breakpoint-based algorithm for full spectral range INDEL detection.

Although recent developed algorithms have integrated multiple signals to improve sensitivity for insertion and deletion (INDEL) detection, they are far from being perfect and still have great limitations in detecting a full size range of INDELs. Here we present BreakSeek, a novel breakpoint-based algorithm, which can unbiasedly and efficiently detect both homozygous and heterozygous INDELs, ranging from several base pairs to over thousands of base pairs, with accurate breakpoint and heterozygosity rate estimations. Comprehensive evaluations on both simulated and real datasets revealed that BreakSeek outperformed other existing methods on both sensitivity and specificity in detecting both small and large INDELs, and uncovered a significant amount of novel INDELs that were missed before. In addition, by incorporating sophisticated statistic models, we for the first time investigated and demonstrated the importance of handling false and conflicting signals for multi-signal integrated methods.© The Author(s) 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.


July 7, 2019  |  

The Mycobacterium avium ssp. paratuberculosis specific mptD gene is required for maintenance of the metabolic homeostasis necessary for full virulence in mouse infections.

Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP) causes Johne’s disease, a chronic granulomatous enteritis in ruminants. Furthermore, infections of humans with MAP have been reported and a possible association with Crohn’s disease and diabetes type I is currently discussed. MAP owns large sequence polymorphisms (LSPs) that were exclusively found in this mycobacteria species. The relevance of these LSPs in the pathobiology of MAP is still unclear. The mptD gene (MAP3733c) of MAP belongs to a small group of functionally uncharacterized genes, which are not present in any other sequenced mycobacteria species. mptD is part of a predicted operon (mptABCDEF), encoding a putative ATP binding cassette-transporter, located on the MAP-specific LSP14. In the present study, we generated an mptD knockout strain (MAP?mptD) by specialized transduction. In order to investigate the potential role of mptD in the host, we performed infection experiments with macrophages. By this, we observed a significantly reduced cell number of MAP?mptD early after infection, indicating that the mutant was hampered with respect to adaptation to the early macrophage environment. This important role of mptD was supported in mouse infection experiments where MAP?mptD was significantly attenuated after peritoneal challenge. Metabolic profiling was performed to determine the cause for the reduced virulence and identified profound metabolic disorders especially in the lipid metabolism of MAP?mptD. Overall our data revealed the mptD gene to be an important factor for the metabolic adaptation of MAP required for persistence in the host.


July 7, 2019  |  

Mutation in the C-di-AMP cyclase dacA affects fitness and resistance of methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

Faster growing and more virulent strains of methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) are increasingly displacing highly resistant MRSA. Elevated fitness in these MRSA is often accompanied by decreased and heterogeneous levels of methicillin resistance; however, the mechanisms for this phenomenon are not yet fully understood. Whole genome sequencing was used to investigate the genetic basis of this apparent correlation, in an isogenic MRSA strain pair that differed in methicillin resistance levels and fitness, with respect to growth rate. Sequencing revealed only one single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in the diadenylate cyclase gene dacA in the faster growing but less resistant strain. Diadenylate cyclases were recently discovered to synthesize the new second messenger cyclic diadenosine monophosphate (c-di-AMP). Introduction of this mutation into the highly resistant but slower growing strain reduced resistance and increased its growth rate, suggesting a direct connection between the dacA mutation and the phenotypic differences of these strains. Quantification of cellular c-di-AMP revealed that the dacA mutation decreased c-di-AMP levels resulting in reduced autolysis, increased salt tolerance and a reduction in the basal expression of the cell wall stress stimulon. These results indicate that c-di-AMP affects cell envelope-related signalling in S. aureus. The influence of c-di-AMP on growth rate and methicillin resistance in MRSA indicate that altering c-di-AMP levels could be a mechanism by which MRSA strains can increase their fitness levels by reducing their methicillin resistance levels.


July 7, 2019  |  

Morphological and genetic analyses of the invasive forest pathogen Phytophthora austrocedri reveal two clonal lineages colonised Britain and Argentina from a common ancestral population.

Phytophthora austrocedri is causing widespread mortality of Austrocedrus chilensis in Argentina and Juniperus communis in Britain. The pathogen has also been isolated from J. horizontalis in Germany. Isolates from Britain, Argentina and Germany are homothallic with no clear differences in the dimensions of sporangia, oogonia or oospores. Argentinian and German isolates grew faster than British isolates across a range of media and had a higher temperature tolerance although most isolates regardless of origin grew best at 15°C and all isolates were killed at 25°C. Argentinian and British isolates caused lesions on both hosts when inoculated onto A. chilensis and J. communis; however the Argentinian isolate caused longer lesions on A. chilensis than on J. communis and vice versa for the British isolate. Genetic analyses of nuclear and mitochondrial loci showed that all British isolates are identical. Argentinian isolates and the German isolate are also identical but differ from the British isolates. Single nucleotide polymorphisms are shared between the British and Argentinian isolates. It is concluded that British isolates and Argentinian isolates conform to two distinct clonal lineages of P. austrocedri founded from the same as-yet unidentified source population. These lineages should be recognised and treated as separate risks by international plant health legislation.


July 7, 2019  |  

In planta comparative transcriptomics of host-adapted strains of Ralstonia solanacearum.

Background. Ralstonia solanacearum is an economically important plant pathogen with an unusually large host range. The Moko (banana) and NPB (not pathogenic to banana) strain groups are closely related but are adapted to distinct hosts. Previous comparative genomics studies uncovered very few differences that could account for the host range difference between these pathotypes. To better understand the basis of this host specificity, we used RNAseq to profile the transcriptomes of an R. solanacearum Moko strain and an NPB strain under in vitro and in planta conditions. Results. RNAs were sequenced from bacteria grown in rich and minimal media, and from bacteria extracted from mid-stage infected tomato, banana and melon plants. We computed differential expression between each pair of conditions to identify constitutive and host-specific gene expression differences between Moko and NPB. We found that type III secreted effectors were globally up-regulated upon plant cell contact in the NPB strain compared with the Moko strain. Genes encoding siderophore biosynthesis and nitrogen assimilation genes were highly up-regulated in the NPB strain during melon pathogenesis, while denitrification genes were up-regulated in the Moko strain during banana pathogenesis. The relatively lower expression of oxidases and the denitrification pathway during banana pathogenesis suggests that R. solanacearum experiences higher oxygen levels in banana pseudostems than in tomato or melon xylem. Conclusions. This study provides the first report of differential gene expression associated with host range variation. Despite minimal genomic divergence, the pathogenesis of Moko and NPB strains is characterized by striking differences in expression of virulence- and metabolism-related genes.


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