April 21, 2020  |  

Current advances in HIV vaccine preclinical studies using Macaque models.

The macaque simian or simian/human immunodeficiency virus (SIV/SHIV) challenge model has been widely used to inform and guide human vaccine trials. Substantial advances have been made recently in the application of repeated-low-dose challenge (RLD) approach to assess SIV/SHIV vaccine efficacies (VE). Some candidate HIV vaccines have shown protective effects in preclinical studies using the macaque SIV/SHIV model but the model’s true predictive value for screening potential HIV vaccine candidates needs to be evaluated further. Here, we review key parameters used in the RLD approach and discuss their relevance for evaluating VE to improve preclinical studies of candidate HIV vaccines.Crown Copyright © 2019. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome-wide mutational biases fuel transcriptional diversity in the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex.

The Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTBC) members display different host-specificities and virulence phenotypes. Here, we have performed a comprehensive RNAseq and methylome analysis of the main clades of the MTBC and discovered unique transcriptional profiles. The majority of genes differentially expressed between the clades encode proteins involved in host interaction and metabolic functions. A significant fraction of changes in gene expression can be explained by positive selection on single mutations that either create or disrupt transcriptional start sites (TSS). Furthermore, we show that clinical strains have different methyltransferases inactivated and thus different methylation patterns. Under the tested conditions, differential methylation has a minor direct role on transcriptomic differences between strains. However, disruption of a methyltransferase in one clinical strain revealed important expression differences suggesting indirect mechanisms of expression regulation. Our study demonstrates that variation in transcriptional profiles are mainly due to TSS mutations and have likely evolved due to differences in host characteristics.


April 21, 2020  |  

Reference genome and comparative genome analysis for the WHO reference strain for Mycobacterium bovis BCG Danish, the present tuberculosis vaccine.

Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette-Guérin (M. bovis BCG) is the only vaccine available against tuberculosis (TB). In an effort to standardize the vaccine production, three substrains, i.e. BCG Danish 1331, Tokyo 172-1 and Russia BCG-1 were established as the WHO reference strains. Both for BCG Tokyo 172-1 as Russia BCG-1, reference genomes exist, not for BCG Danish. In this study, we set out to determine the completely assembled genome sequence for BCG Danish and to establish a workflow for genome characterization of engineering-derived vaccine candidate strains.By combining second (Illumina) and third (PacBio) generation sequencing in an integrated genome analysis workflow for BCG, we could construct the completely assembled genome sequence of BCG Danish 1331 (07/270) (and an engineered derivative that is studied as an improved vaccine candidate, a SapM KO), including the resolution of the analytically challenging long duplication regions. We report the presence of a DU1-like duplication in BCG Danish 1331, while this tandem duplication was previously thought to be exclusively restricted to BCG Pasteur. Furthermore, comparative genome analyses of publicly available data for BCG substrains showed the absence of a DU1 in certain BCG Pasteur substrains and the presence of a DU1-like duplication in some BCG China substrains. By integrating publicly available data, we provide an update to the genome features of the commonly used BCG strains.We demonstrate how this analysis workflow enables the resolution of genome duplications and of the genome of engineered derivatives of the BCG Danish vaccine strain. The BCG Danish WHO reference genome will serve as a reference for future engineered strains and the established workflow can be used to enhance BCG vaccine standardization.


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