June 1, 2021  |  

Metagenomic analysis of type II diabetes gut microbiota using PacBio HiFi reads reveals taxonomic and functional differences

In the past decade, the human microbiome has been increasingly shown to play a major role in health. For example, imbalances in gut microbiota appear to be associated with Type II diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and cardiovascular disease. Coronary artery disease (CAD) is a major determinant of the long-term prognosis among T2DM patients, with a 2- to 4-fold increased mortality risk when present. However, the exact microbial strains or functions implicated in disease need further investigation. From a large study with 523 participants (185 healthy controls, 186 T2DM patients without CAD, and 106 T2DM patients with CAD), 3 samples from each patient group were selected for long read sequencing. Each sample was prepared and sequenced on one Sequel II System SMRT Cell, to assess whether long accurate PacBio HiFi reads could yield additional insights to those made using short reads. Each of the 9 samples was subject to metagenomic assembly and binning, taxonomic classification and functional profiling. Results from metagenomic assembly and binning show that it is possible to generate a significant number of complete MAGs (Metagenome Assembled Genomes) from each sample, with over half of the high-quality MAGs being represented by a single circular contig. We show that differences found in taxonomic and functional profiles of healthy versus diabetic patients in the small 9-sample study align with the results of the larger study, as well as with results reported in literature. For example, the abundances of beneficial short- chain fatty acid (SCFA) producers such as Phascolarctobacterium faecium and Faecalibacterium prausnitzii were decreased in T2DM gut microbiota in both studies, while the abundances of quinol and quinone biosynthesis pathways were increased as compared to healthy controls. In conclusion, metagenomic analysis of long accurate HiFi reads revealed important taxonomic and functional differences in T2DM versus healthy gut microbiota. Furthermore, metagenome assembly of long HiFi reads led to the recovery of many complete MAGs and a significant number of complete circular bacterial chromosome sequences.

April 21, 2020  |  

Sequential evolution of virulence and resistance during clonal spread of community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

The past two decades have witnessed an alarming expansion of staphylococcal disease caused by community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA). The factors underlying the epidemic expansion of CA-MRSA lineages such as USA300, the predominant CA-MRSA clone in the United States, are largely unknown. Previously described virulence and antimicrobial resistance genes that promote the dissemination of CA-MRSA are carried by mobile genetic elements, including phages and plasmids. Here, we used high-resolution genomics and experimental infections to characterize the evolution of a USA300 variant plaguing a patient population at increased risk of infection to understand the mechanisms underlying the emergence of genetic elements that facilitate clonal spread of the pathogen. Genetic analyses provided conclusive evidence that fitness (manifest as emergence of a dominant clone) changed coincidently with the stepwise emergence of (i) a unique prophage and mutation of the regulator of the pyrimidine nucleotide biosynthetic operon that promoted abscess formation and colonization, respectively, thereby priming the clone for success; and (ii) a unique plasmid that conferred resistance to two topical microbiocides, mupirocin and chlorhexidine, frequently used for decolonization and infection prevention. The resistance plasmid evolved through successive incorporation of DNA elements from non-S. aureus spp. into an indigenous cryptic plasmid, suggesting a mechanism for interspecies genetic exchange that promotes antimicrobial resistance. Collectively, the data suggest that clonal spread in a vulnerable population resulted from extensive clinical intervention and intense selection pressure toward a pathogen lifestyle that involved the evolution of consequential mutations and mobile genetic elements.

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