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Authors: Liechti, Nicole and Schürch, Nadia and Bruggmann, Rémy and Wittwer, Matthias

Members of the genus Naegleria are free-living eukaryotes with the capability to transform from the amoeboid form into resting cysts or moving flagellates in response to environmental conditions. More than 40 species have been characterized, but only Naegleria fowleri (N. fowleri) is known as a human pathogen causing primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), a fast progressing and mostly fatal disease of the central nervous system. Several studies report an involvement of phospholipases and other molecular factors, but the mechanisms involved in pathogenesis are still poorly understood. To gain a better understanding of the relationships within the genus of Naegleria and to investigate pathogenicity factors of N. fowleri, we characterized the genome of its closest non-pathogenic relative N. lovaniensis.To gain insights into the taxonomy of Naegleria, we sequenced the genome of N. lovaniensis using long read sequencing technology. The assembly of the data resulted in a 30 Mb genome including the circular mitochondrial sequence. Unravelling the phylogenetic relationship using OrthoMCL protein clustering and maximum likelihood methods confirms the close relationship of N. lovaniensis and N. fowleri. To achieve an overview of the diversity of Naegleria proteins and to assess characteristics of the human pathogen N. fowleri, OrthoMCL protein clustering including data of N. fowleri, N. lovaniensis and N. gruberi was performed. GO enrichment analysis shows an association of N. fowleri specific proteins to the GO terms "Membrane" and "Protein Secretion."In this study, we characterize the hitherto unknown genome of N. lovaniensis. With the description of the 30 Mb genome, a further piece is added to reveal the complex taxonomic relationship of Naegleria. Further, the whole genome sequencing data confirms the hypothesis of the close relationship between N. fowleri and N. lovaniensis. Therefore, the genome of N. lovaniensis provides the basis for further comparative approaches on the molecular and genomic level to unravel pathogenicity factors of its closest human pathogenic relative N. fowleri and possible treatment options for the rare but mostly fatal primary meningoencephalitis.

Journal: BMC genomics
DOI: 10.1186/s12864-018-4994-1
Year: 2018

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