June 1, 2021  |  

Using whole exome sequencing and bacterial pathogen sequencing to investigate the genetic basis of pulmonary non-tuberculous mycobacterial infections.

Pulmonary non-tuberculous mycobacterial (PNTM) infections occur in patients with chronic lung disease, but also in a distinct group of elderly women without lung defects who share a common body morphology: tall and lean with scoliosis, pectus excavatum, and mitral valve prolapse. In order to characterize the human host susceptibility to PNTM, we performed whole exome sequencing (WES) of 44 individuals in extended families of patients with active PNTM as well as 55 additional unrelated individuals with PNTM. This unique collection of familial cohorts in PNTM represents an important opportunity for a high yield search for genes that regulate mucosal immunity. An average of 58 million 100bp paired-end Illumina reads per exome were generated and mapped to the hg19 reference genome. Following variant detection and classification, we identified 58,422 potentially high-impact SNPs, 97.3% of which were missense mutations. Segregating variants using the family pedigrees as well as comparisons to the unrelated individuals identified multiple potential variants associated with PNTM. Validations of these candidate variants in a larger PNTM cohort are underway. In addition to WES, we sequenced the genomes of 52 mycobacterial isolates, including 9 from these PNTM patients, to integrate host PNTM susceptibility with mycobacterial genotypes and gain insights into the key factors involved in this devastating disease. These genomes were sequenced using a combination of 454, Illumina, and PacBio platforms and assembled using multiple genome assemblers. The resulting genome sequences were used to identify mycobacterial genotypes associated with virulence, invasion, and drug resistance.


April 21, 2020  |  

Extended insight into the Mycobacterium chelonae-abscessus complex through whole genome sequencing of Mycobacterium salmoniphilum outbreak and Mycobacterium salmoniphilum-like strains.

Members of the Mycobacterium chelonae-abscessus complex (MCAC) are close to the mycobacterial ancestor and includes both human, animal and fish pathogens. We present the genomes of 14 members of this complex: the complete genomes of Mycobacterium salmoniphilum and Mycobacterium chelonae type strains, seven M. salmoniphilum isolates, and five M. salmoniphilum-like strains including strains isolated during an outbreak in an animal facility at Uppsala University. Average nucleotide identity (ANI) analysis and core gene phylogeny revealed that the M. salmoniphilum-like strains are variants of the human pathogen Mycobacterium franklinii and phylogenetically close to Mycobacterium abscessus. Our data further suggested that M. salmoniphilum separates into three branches named group I, II and III with the M. salmoniphilum type strain belonging to group II. Among predicted virulence factors, the presence of phospholipase C (plcC), which is a major virulence factor that makes M. abscessus highly cytotoxic to mouse macrophages, and that M. franklinii originally was isolated from infected humans make it plausible that the outbreak in the animal facility was caused by a M. salmoniphilum-like strain. Interestingly, M. salmoniphilum-like was isolated from tap water suggesting that it can be present in the environment. Moreover, we predicted the presence of mutational hotspots in the M. salmoniphilum isolates and 26% of these hotspots overlap with genes categorized as having roles in virulence, disease and defense. We also provide data about key genes involved in transcription and translation such as sigma factor, ribosomal protein and tRNA genes.


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