April 21, 2020  |  

hicap: In Silico Serotyping of the Haemophilus influenzae Capsule Locus.

Haemophilus influenzae exclusively colonizes the human nasopharynx and can cause a variety of respiratory infections as well as invasive diseases, including meningitis and sepsis. A key virulence determinant of H. influenzae is the polysaccharide capsule, of which six serotypes are known, each encoded by a distinct variation of the capsule biosynthesis locus (cap-a to cap-f). H. influenzae type b (Hib) was historically responsible for the majority of invasive H. influenzae disease, and its prevalence has been markedly reduced in countries that have implemented vaccination programs targeting this serotype. In the postvaccine era, nontypeable H. influenzae emerged as the most dominant group causing disease, but in recent years a resurgence of encapsulated H. influenzae strains has also been observed, most notably serotype a. Given the increasing incidence of encapsulated strains and the high frequency of Hib in countries without vaccination programs, there is growing interest in genomic epidemiology of H. influenzae Here we present hicap, a software tool for rapid in silico serotype prediction from H. influenzae genome sequences. hicap is written using Python3 and is freely available at https://github.com/scwatts/hicap under the GNU General Public License v3 (GPL3). To demonstrate the utility of hicap, we used it to investigate the cap locus diversity and distribution in 691 high-quality H. influenzae genomes from GenBank. These analyses identified cap loci in 95 genomes and confirmed the general association of each serotype with a unique clonal lineage, and they also identified occasional recombination between lineages that gave rise to hybrid cap loci (2% of encapsulated strains).Copyright © 2019 Watts and Holt.

April 21, 2020  |  

Genomic investigation of Staphylococcus aureus recovered from Gambian women and newborns following an oral dose of intra-partum azithromycin.

Oral azithromycin given during labour reduces carriage of bacteria responsible for neonatal sepsis, including Staphylococcus aureus. However, there is concern that this may promote drug resistance.Here, we combine genomic and epidemiological data on S. aureus isolated from mothers and babies in a randomized intra-partum azithromycin trial (PregnAnZI) to describe bacterial population dynamics and resistance mechanisms.Participants from both arms of the trial, who carried S. aureus in day 3 and day 28 samples post-intervention, were included. Sixty-six S. aureus isolates (from 7 mothers and 10 babies) underwent comparative genome analyses and the data were then combined with epidemiological data. Trial registration (main trial): ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier NCT01800942.Seven S. aureus STs were identified, with ST5 dominant (n?=?40, 61.0%), followed by ST15 (n?=?11, 17.0%). ST5 predominated in the placebo arm (73.0% versus 49.0%, P?=?0.039) and ST15 in the azithromycin arm (27.0% versus 6.0%, P?=?0.022). In azithromycin-resistant isolates, msr(A) was the main macrolide resistance gene (n?=?36, 80%). Ten study participants, from both trial arms, acquired azithromycin-resistant S. aureus after initially harbouring a susceptible isolate. In nine (90%) of these cases, the acquired clone was an msr(A)-containing ST5 S. aureus. Long-read sequencing demonstrated that in ST5, msr(A) was found on an MDR plasmid.Our data reveal in this Gambian population the presence of a dominant clone of S. aureus harbouring plasmid-encoded azithromycin resistance, which was acquired by participants in both arms of the study. Understanding these resistance dynamics is crucial to defining the public health drug resistance impacts of azithromycin prophylaxis given during labour in Africa. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.

April 21, 2020  |  

Deciphering bacterial epigenomes using modern sequencing technologies.

Prokaryotic DNA contains three types of methylation: N6-methyladenine, N4-methylcytosine and 5-methylcytosine. The lack of tools to analyse the frequency and distribution of methylated residues in bacterial genomes has prevented a full understanding of their functions. Now, advances in DNA sequencing technology, including single-molecule, real-time sequencing and nanopore-based sequencing, have provided new opportunities for systematic detection of all three forms of methylated DNA at a genome-wide scale and offer unprecedented opportunities for achieving a more complete understanding of bacterial epigenomes. Indeed, as the number of mapped bacterial methylomes approaches 2,000, increasing evidence supports roles for methylation in regulation of gene expression, virulence and pathogen-host interactions.

April 21, 2020  |  

Genome-wide systematic identification of methyltransferase recognition and modification patterns.

Genome-wide analysis of DNA methylation patterns using single molecule real-time DNA sequencing has boosted the number of publicly available methylomes. However, there is a lack of tools coupling methylation patterns and the corresponding methyltransferase genes. Here we demonstrate a high-throughput method for coupling methyltransferases with their respective motifs, using automated cloning and analysing the methyltransferases in vectors carrying a strain-specific cassette containing all potential target sites. To validate the method, we analyse the genomes of the thermophile Moorella thermoacetica and the mesophile Acetobacterium woodii, two acetogenic bacteria having substantially modified genomes with 12 methylation motifs and a total of 23 methyltransferase genes. Using our method, we characterize the 23 methyltransferases, assign motifs to the respective enzymes and verify activity for 11 of the 12 motifs.

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