We analyzed temporal changes in the frequencies of the ptxA, prn, fim2, and fim3 alleles in Bordetella pertussis strains isolated from pertussis patients in Moscow, Russia, from 1948 to 2004. The three strains used for the whole-cell vaccine harbored the alleles ptxA2, ptxA4, prn1, fim2-1, and fim3A. Vaccine-type alleles of ptxA (ptxA2 and ptxA4) were characteristic for all prevaccination strains and for 96% of the strains isolated in the 1960s and 1970s. At the beginning of the 1970s, ptxA2 and ptxA4 were replaced by the ptxA1 allele. In the 1980s and to the present, strains with ptxA1 were predominant in the B. pertussis population. All prevaccination strains harbored the prn1 allele, which corresponds to the vaccine-type allele. In subsequent years, the proportion of strains with the prn1 allele decreased and the proportion of prn3 and prn2 strains increased. From 2002 to 2004 strains with prn2 or prn3 were predominant in the B. pertussis population. The vaccine-type alleles fim2-1 and fim3A were found in all prevaccination strains and in 92% of the strains isolated from 1960 to 1989. The fim2-2 and fim3B alleles were first observed at the beginning of the 1980s. In subsequent years, these strains became predominant. Together with waning immunity, the antigenic divergence between vaccine strains and clinical isolates observed in the Moscow area may explain the persistence of pertussis, despite the high rates of vaccine coverage. The results demonstrate that the selection of B. pertussis strains for vaccine manufacturing must be based on a thorough study of the B. pertussis population.
The Bordetella pertussis pertussis toxin and pertactin (Prn) are protective antigens and are contained in acellular pertussis vaccines. Polymorphisms in the A subunit of pertussis toxin (PtxA) and pertactin have been proposed to mediate vaccine resistance and contribute to pertussis reemergence. To test this hypothesis, previous studies compared clinical isolates expressing different alleles for the proteins. However, other virulence factors or virulence factor expression levels also may vary, confounding the analysis. To overcome these limitations, we constructed isogenic mutants of B. pertussis Tohama expressing the alleles ptxA1 or ptxA2 and prn1 or prn2 and compared the efficacies of an acellular pertussis vaccine against the mutants in a mouse model. While the vaccine was effective against all of the B. pertussis strains regardless of the allele expression pattern, the strain expressing ptxA1 and prn2 displayed a survival advantage over the other strains. These results suggest that an allele shift to the ptxA1 prn2 genotype may play a role in the emergence of pertussis in vaccinated populations.
In the present study, clinical isolates of Bordetella pertussis collected in Poland from 1960 to 2005 were analyzed by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) according to protocols recommended in previous studies. Among the 110 isolates from 1995 to 2005, 59 PFGE patterns were found, most of which were different from those currently circulating in other European Union (EU) countries for which data are available. The PFGE patterns of currently disseminating B. pertussis clones were found within PFGE groups III and IV, as elsewhere in the EU, and in newly identified clusters A and C. Up to 70, 26, and 4%, respectively, of the currently isolated strains in Poland harbored ptxA1-prn1, ptxA1-prn2, and ptxA1-prn3 allele combinations, and most (82%) were found to be of the Fim2 phenotype. Differences in the extent of heterogeneity estimated by PFGE typing in B. pertussis populations circulating in Poland in comparison to other EU countries may be due to the different vaccine composition strategy, since routine pertussis vaccination was initiated in Poland in 1960.
Pertussis (whooping cough) is a potentially fatal respiratory disease caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis. Despite effective vaccination programs, there has been concern in some developed countries that pertussis cases are on the increase. We characterized 703 clinical B. pertussis isolates collected in the United Kingdom between 1920 and 2006 using multilocus variable-number tandem repeat analysis (MLVA), pertactin (prnA) and pertussis toxin (ptxA) genotyping, and serotyping. The results showed that the genetic diversity of the bacterial population decreased during periods of high vaccine coverage. However, it was elevated between 1977 and 1986, when vaccine coverage in the United Kingdom was low and epidemics occurred. A high proportion of MLVA types during this epidemic period were novel, and the prnA(2) and prnA(3) alleles were seen for the first time in the United Kingdom. MLVA-27 appeared in 1982, was codominant during the 1998-to-2001 period, and comprised ∼70% of isolates during both the 2002-to-2004 and the 2005-to-2006 periods. The United Kingdom is dominated currently by an MLVA-27 prnA(2) ptxA(1) serotype Fim3 clonal type. Even during recent periods dominated by MLVA-27, many novel types were found at low frequencies, suggesting that either there are a large number of uncommon MLVA types circulating at low frequencies or new types are constantly arising. This supports a hypothesis that MLVA-27 is under some form of positive selection conferring increased survival in a highly vaccinated population. There has been no significant change to the bacterial population in the first 2 years since the United Kingdom switched from a whole-cell to an acellular vaccine.
Pertussis is an infectious disease of the respiratory tract caused by Bordetella pertussis. Despite the introduction of mass vaccination against pertussis in Finland in 1952, pertussis has remained an endemic disease with regular epidemics. To monitor changes in the Finnish B. pertussis population, 101 isolates selected from 1991 to 2003 and 21 isolates selected from 1953 to 1982 were studied together with two Finnish vaccine strains. The analyses included serotyping of fimbriae (Fim), genotyping of the pertussis toxin S1 subunit (ptxA) and pertactin (prn), and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) after digestion of B. pertussis genomic DNA with XbaI restriction enzyme. Strains isolated before 1977 were found to harbor the same ptxA as the strains used in the Finnish whole-cell pertussis vaccine, and strains isolated before 1982 harbored the same prn as the strains used in the Finnish whole-cell pertussis vaccine. All recent isolates, however, represented genotypes distinct from those of the two vaccine strains. A marked shift of predominant serotype from Fim serotype 2 (Fim2) to Fim3 has been observed since the late 1990s. Temporal changes were seen in the genome of B. pertussis by PFGE analysis. Three PFGE profiles (BpSR1, BpSR11, and BpSR147) were distinguished by their prevalence between 1991 and 2003. The yearly emergence of the three profiles was distributed periodically. Our study stresses the importance of the continuous monitoring of emerging strains of B. pertussis and the need to obtain a better understanding of the relationship of the evolution of B. pertussis in vaccinated populations.
The reemergence of pertussis has been reported in several countries despite high vaccination coverage. Studies in The Netherlands and Finland have investigated polymorphism in the genes coding for two important virulence factors of Bordetella pertussis, pertactin and pertussis toxin, and identified the emergence and subsequent dominance in circulating strains of pertactin and toxin variants not found in the whole-cell vaccine (WCV). The study described here investigated whether such variation had occurred in the United Kingdom, which presently has low levels of pertussis. Sequence analysis of the genes for pertactin (prnA) and the pertussis toxin S1 subunit (ptxA) among isolates of B. pertussis from 285 United Kingdom patients, from 1920 to 1999, revealed three prnA variants, prnA(1), prnA(2), and prnA(3), and two ptxA variants, ptxA(1) and ptxA(2), showing differences in nucleic acid sequence. The proportion of pertactin gene types not included in the United Kingdom WCV, i.e., prnA(2) and prnA(3), has increased in recent years and was found in 21 of 86 (24%) strains from the 1980s and 56 of 105 (53%) strains from the 1990s. To date, the presence of these nonvaccine prnA types has not been associated with a resurgence of pertussis in the United Kingdom. The distribution of prnA and ptxA types in The Netherlands, Finland, and the United Kingdom in the 1990s is distinct. The most striking difference in the United Kingdom isolates is that all 105 of the most recent circulating strains (from 1998 to 1999) are of a pertussis toxin type found in the United Kingdom WCV, i.e., ptxA(1).
Despite more than 50 years of vaccination, Bordetella pertussis has remained endemic in The Netherlands, causing epidemic outbreaks every 3 to 5 years. Strain variation may play a role in the persistence of B. pertussis and was studied by sequencing 15 genes coding for surface proteins, including genes for all five components of acellular pertussis vaccines: pertussis toxin (Ptx), pertactin (Prn), filamentous hemagglutinin, and fimbriae (Fim2 and Fim3). A low level of allelic variation was observed, confirming a recent evolutionary origin of B. pertussis. In modern isolates, polymorphism was observed only in prn, ptxS1, ptxS3, and tcfA. Polymorphism in ptxS1, ptxS3, and tcfA was used to categorize isolates in multilocus sequence types (MLSTs). Analysis of Dutch isolates from 1949 to 1999 revealed five MLSTs, which showed a highly dynamic temporal behavior. We observed significant changes in the MLSTs after the introduction of pertussis vaccination in The Netherlands. Epidemic years were found to be associated with the expansion of MLST-4 or MLST-5. MLST-5 showed a remarkable expansion from 10% in 1997 to 80% in 1999. The MLST analysis was extended to a number of widely separated geographic regions: Finland, Italy, Japan, and the United States. MLST-4 and MLST-5 were found to dominate in Italy and the United States. In Finland and Japan, MLST-3 and MLST-2, respectively, were predominant. Thus, although each region showed distinctive MLST frequencies, in three of the five regions MLST-4 and MLST-5 were predominant. These types may represent newly emerged, successful clones. The identification of highly successful clones may shed light on the question of how B. pertussis is able to maintain itself in vaccinated populations.
Bordetella pertussis is the causative agent of pertussis, a highly contagious disease of the human respiratory tract. Despite high vaccination coverage, pertussis has resurged and has become one of the most prevalent vaccine-preventable diseases in developed countries. We have proposed that both waning immunity and pathogen adaptation have contributed to the persistence and resurgence of pertussis. Allelic variation has been found in virulence-associated genes coding for the pertussis toxin A subunit (ptxA), pertactin (prn), serotype 2 fimbriae (fim2), serotype 3 fimbriae (fim3) and the promoter for pertussis toxin (ptxP). In this study, we investigated how more than 60 years of vaccination has affected the Dutch B. pertussis population by combining data from phylogeny, genomics and temporal trends in strain frequencies. Our main focus was on the ptxA, prn, fim3 and ptxP genes. However, we also compared the genomes of 11 Dutch strains belonging to successful lineages. Our results showed that, between 1949 and 2010, the Dutch B. pertussis population has undergone as least four selective sweeps that were associated with small mutations in ptxA, prn, fim3 and ptxP. Phylogenetic analysis revealed a stepwise adaptation in which mutations accumulated clonally. Genomic analysis revealed a number of additional mutations which may have a contributed to the selective sweeps. Five large deletions were identified which were fixed in the pathogen population. However, only one was linked to a selective sweep. No evidence was found for a role of gene acquisition in pathogen adaptation. Our results suggest that the B. pertussis gene repertoire is already well adapted to its current niche and required only fine tuning to persist in the face of vaccination. Further, this work shows that small mutations, even single SNPs, can drive large changes in the populations of bacterial pathogens within a time span of six to 19 years.
Antigenic divergence has been found between Bordetella pertussis vaccine strains and circulating strains in several countries. In the present study, we analyzed B. pertussis isolates collected in Japan from 1988 to 2001 using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and sequencing of two virulence-associated proteins. The 107 isolates were classified into three major groups by PFGE analysis; 87 (81%) were type A, 19 (18%) were type B, and 1 (1%) was type C. Sequence analysis of the S1 subunit of pertussis toxin (ptxS1) and adhesion pertactin (prn) genes revealed the presence of two (ptxS1A and ptxS1B) and three (prn1, prn2, and prn3) variants, respectively, in the isolates. Among those isolates, 82 (95%) of the 87 type A strains and the type C strain had the same combination of ptxS1B and prn1 alleles (ptxS1B/prn1) as the Japanese vaccine strain. On the other hand, 17 (90%) of 19 type B strains had an allele (ptxS1A/prn2) distinct from that of the vaccine strain. A correlation was found between the antigenic variation and the PFGE profile in the isolates. In addition, the frequency of the type B strain was 0, 27, 0, 42, and 37% of the isolates in the periods 1988 to 1993, 1994 to 1995, 1996 to 1997, 1998 to 1999, and 2000 to 2001, respectively. In contrast, the number of reported pertussis-like and pertussis cases decreased gradually from 1991 on, suggesting that the antigenic divergence did not affect the efficacy of pertussis vaccination in Japan.
The adhesin pertactin (Prn) is one of the major virulence factors of Bordetella pertussis, the etiological agent of whooping cough. However, a significant prevalence of Prn-deficient (Prn−) B. pertussis was observed in Japan. The Prn− isolate was first discovered in 1997, and 33 (27%) Prn− isolates were identified among 121 B. pertussis isolates collected from 1990 to 2009. Sequence analysis revealed that all the Prn− isolates harbor exclusively the vaccine-type prn1 allele and that loss of Prn expression is caused by 2 different mutations: an 84-bp deletion of the prn signal sequence (prn1ΔSS, n = 24) and an IS481 insertion in prn1 (prn1::IS481, n = 9). The frequency of Prn− isolates, notably those harboring prn1ΔSS, significantly increased since the early 2000s, and Prn− isolates were subsequently found nationwide. Multilocus variable-number tandem repeat analysis (MLVA) revealed that 24 (73%) of 33 Prn− isolates belong to MLVA-186, and 6 and 3 Prn− isolates belong to MLVA-194 and MLVA-226, respectively. The 3 MLVA types are phylogenetically closely related, suggesting that the 2 Prn− clinical strains (harboring prn1ΔSS and prn1::IS481) have clonally expanded in Japan. Growth competition assays in vitro also demonstrated that Prn− isolates have a higher growth potential than the Prn+ back-mutants from which they were derived. Our observations suggested that human host factors (genetic factors and immune status) that select for Prn− strains have arisen and that Prn expression is not essential for fitness under these conditions.
We analyzed the Bordetella pertussis and Bordetella parapertussis isolates circulating in Saint Petersburg that were collected between 1998 and 2000 and compared them with isolates collected 40 years ago and Russian vaccine strains. The analysis involved serotyping, pulsed-field gel electrophoresis of chromosomal DNA after digestion with XbaI and SpeI, and sequencing of the ptxS1 and prn genes, which encode the S1 subunit of the pertussis toxin and the major adhesin pertactin, respectively. The Russian isolates were classified in five of the six pulsed-field gel electrophoresis groups identified in other European countries. The B. pertussis isolates currently circulating in Saint Petersburg differed from the Russian whole-cell vaccine strains and the isolates collected in the prevaccine era. However, their repartition in the major pulsed-field gel electrophoresis groups was slightly different from that of isolates collected in countries that have had a high level of vaccine coverage for a long time, probably because the level of vaccine coverage in Saint Petersburg has increased only recently, after decreasing until the early 1990s. Most of the B. parapertussis isolates studied were similar to those circulating in France. However, some variants were observed, perhaps because B. parapertussis infections are more common in children in this area.
The Swedish population of Bordetella pertussis strains was characterized from 1,247 isolates covering a whole-cell vaccine program up to 1979, a 17-year period without vaccination (1979 to 1996), and a period after the introduction of general vaccination among newborns with acellular pertussis vaccines (1997 to 2003). Strains were characterized by serotyping and genotyping of pertactin and ptxA and by means of pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). With emphasis on vaccine-related markers, the vast majority of circulating strains were of nonvaccine type. There were shifts of serotype connected with shifts of vaccination program. Serotype Fim3 was most frequent during the periods with general vaccination schedules, whereas serotype Fim2 was predominant during the 17-year vaccine-free period. Pertactin 1 was predominant during the pertussis whole-cell (Pw) vaccine period but was thereafter replaced by prn2 and has not reappeared after the introduction of acellular pertussis (Pa) vaccines. ptxA (1) was predominant over all three decades. There was a significant difference in the distribution of serotypes between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, but not for pertactin. A few PFGE profiles were predominant over the years: BpSR25 (serotype Fim3 prn1/7) and BpSR18 (serotype Fim3 prn2) during the Pw period, BpSR1 (serotype Fim2 prn2) during the 17 years without general vaccination, and BpSR11 (serotype Fim3 prn2) after the reintroduction of general vaccination in 1996. Despite differences between the pertactin and toxin types of Pa vaccines and circulating strains, there is no evidence that there is a threat, i.e., the vaccination program so far has been effective against whooping cough, and there seems to be no impact on the effectiveness of the vaccination program from the bacterial polymorphism.
To add new insight to our previous work on the molecular epidemiology of Bordetella pertussis in Argentina, the prn and ptxS1 gene sequences and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) profiles of 57 clinical isolates obtained during two periods, 1969 to 1989 and 1997 to 2006, were analyzed. Non-vaccine-type ptxS1A was detected in isolates obtained since 1969. From 1989 on, a shift of predominance from the vaccine prn1 type to the nonvaccine prn2 type was observed. This was also reflected in a transition of PFGE group IV to group VI. These results show that nonvaccine B. pertussis strains are currently circulating. To analyze whether the observed genomic divergences between vaccine strains and clinical isolates have functional implications, protection assays using the intranasal mouse challenge model were performed. For such experiments, the clinical isolate B. pertussis 106 was selected as representative of circulating bacteria, since it came from the major group of the PFGE dendrogram (PFGE group VI). Groups of mice were immunized either with diphtheria-tetanus-whole-cell pertussis vaccine (ptxS1B prn1) or a vaccine prepared by us containing B. pertussis 106. Immunized mice were then challenged with a B. pertussis vaccine strain (Tohama, harboring ptxS1B and prn1) or the clinical isolate B. pertussis 106 (ptxS1A prn2). An adequate bacterial-elimination rate was observed only when mice were immunized and challenged with the same kind of strain. For further characterization, comparative proteomic profiling of enriched membrane proteins was done using three vaccine strains and the selected B. pertussis 106 clinical isolate. By matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time of flight mass spectrometry analysis, a total of 54 proteins were identified. This methodology allowed us to detect differing proteins among the four strains studied and, in particular, to distinguish the three vaccine strains from each other, as well as the vaccine strains from the clinical isolate. The differing proteins observed have cellular roles associated with amino acid and carbohydrate transport and metabolism. Some of them have been proposed as novel vaccine candidate proteins for other pathogens. Overall, the global strategy described here is presented as a good tool for the development of next-generation acellular vaccines.
A large pertussis epidemic occurred between 2008 and 2010 in Japan. To investigate epidemic strains, we analyzed 33 Bordetella pertussis isolates from the epidemic period by sequencing virulence-associated genes (fim3, ptxP, ptxA, and prn) and performing multilocus variable-number tandem repeat analysis (MLVA), and compared these results with those of 101 isolates from non-epidemic, earlier and later time periods. DNA sequencing of the fim3 allele revealed that the frequency of fim3B was 4.3%, 12.8%, 30.3%, and 5.1% within isolates in 2002–2004, 2005–2007, 2008–2010, and 2011–2012, respectively. The isolation rate of the fim3B strain therefore temporarily increased during the epidemic period 2008–2010. In contrast, the frequencies of the virulence-associated allelic variants, ptxP3, ptxA1, and prn2, increased with time during overall study period, indicating that these variants were not directly involved in the occurrence of the 2008–2010 epidemic. MLVA genotyping in combination with analysis of allele types showed that the prevalence of an MT27d strain temporarily increased in the epidemic period, and that this strain carried virulence-associated allelic variants (fim3B, ptxP3, ptxA1, and prn2) also identified in recent epidemic strains of Australia, Europe, and the US. Phenotypic analyses revealed that the serotype Fim3 strain was predominant (≥87%) during all the periods studied, and that the frequency of adhesion pertactin (Prn) non-expressing B. pertussis decreased by half in the epidemic period. All MT27d strains expressed Prn and Fim3 proteins, suggesting that B. pertussis MT27d strains expressing Prn and Fim3B have the potential to cause large epidemics worldwide.
Despite the widespread use of pertussis vaccines during the last decades, pertussis has remained an endemic disease with frequent epidemic outbreaks. Currently two types of vaccines are used: whole-cell vaccines (WCVs) and recently developed acellular vaccines (ACVs). The long-term aim of our studies is to assess the effect of different vaccination policies on the population structure of Bordetella pertussis and ultimately on the disease burden in Europe. In the present study, a total of 102 B. pertussis isolates from the period 1998 to 2001 from five European countries (Finland, Sweden, Germany, The Netherlands, and France) were characterized. The isolates were analyzed by typing based on variable number of tandem repeats (VNTR); by sequencing of polymorphic genes encoding the surface proteins pertussis toxin S1 and S3 subunits (ptxA and ptxC), pertactin (prn), and tracheal colonization factor (tcfA); and by fimbrial serotyping. The results reveal a relationship between geographic location and VNTR types, the frequency of the ptxC alleles, and serotypes. We have not observed a relationship between the strain characteristics we studied and vaccination programs. Our results provide a baseline which can be used to reveal changes in the B. pertussis population in Europe in the coming years.
In recent studies, antigenic divergence has been observed in Bordetella pertussis circulating isolates. We collected 80 Bordetella pertussis isolates in Taiwan from 1998 to 2004 and analyzed them using a combination of pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and sequencing of the ptxS1 and prn genes. The incidence of pertussis increases every 3 years, and most of the isolates prevalent since 1998 have expressed nonvaccine ptxS1A and prn2 alleles. Through PFGE analysis, all isolates could be classified into four major groups, and the incidence of these groups exhibited a correlation with the prn allele expressed by the isolates. We found that PFGE is more discriminative than gene sequencing, since it could divide the isolates expressing the prn2 allele into two groups: one group circulating from 1998 to 2001 and another group circulating from 2001 to 2004. The transition between the two groups in 2000 coincided with an outbreak of 326 cases. This research indicates that the antigenic divergence of B. pertussis circulating isolates has evolved over time in Taiwan. Such information will have implications for vaccine policy in Taiwan.
The virulence factor pertactin (Prn) is a component of pertussis vaccines and one
of the most polymorphic Bordetella pertussis antigens. After
the introduction of vaccination shifts in predominant Prn types were observed
and strains with the Prn vaccine type (Prn1) were replaced by strains carrying
non-vaccine types (Prn2 and Prn3), suggesting vaccine-driven selection. The aim
of this study was to elucidate the shifts observed in Prn variants. We show
that, although Prn2 and Prn3 circulated in similar frequencies in the 1970s and
1980s, in the 1990s Prn2 strains expanded and Prn3 strains disappeared,
suggesting that in vaccinated populations Prn2 strains are fitter than Prn3
strains. We established a role for Prn in the mouse model by showing that a Prn
knock-out (Prn-ko) mutation reduced colonization in trachea and lungs.
Restoration of the mutation resulted in a significant increase in colonization
compared to the knock-out mutant. The ability of clinical isolates with
different Prn variants to colonize the mouse lung was compared. Although these
isolates were also polymorphic at other loci, only variation in the promoter for
pertussis toxin (ptxP) and Prn were found to contribute
significantly to differences in colonization. Analysis of a subset of strains
with the same ptxP allele revealed that the ability to colonize
mice decreased in the order Prn1>Prn2 and Prn3. Our results are consistent
with the predominance of Prn1 strains in unvaccinated populations. Our results
show that ability to colonize mice is practically the same for Prn2 and Prn3.
Therefore other factors may have contributed to the predominance of Prn2 in
vaccinated populations. The mouse model may be useful to assess and predict
changes in the B. pertussis population due to vaccination.
Resurgence of pertussis was not directly correlated with changes in vaccine composition or schedule.
Since the 1980s, pertussis notifications in the United States have been increasing. To determine the types of Bordetella pertussis responsible for these increases, we divided 661 B. pertussis isolates collected in the United States during 1935–2009 into 8 periods related to the introduction of novel vaccines or changes in vaccination schedule. B. pertussis diversity was highest from 1970–1990 (94%) but declined to ≈70% after 1991 and has remained constant. During 2006–2009, 81.6% of the strains encoded multilocus sequence type prn2-ptxP3-ptxS1A-fim3B, and 64% were multilocus variable number tandem repeat analysis type 27. US trends were consistent with those seen internationally; emergence and predominance of the fim3B allele was the only molecular characteristic associated with the increase in pertussis notifications. Changes in the vaccine composition and schedule were not the direct selection pressures that resulted in the allele changes present in the current B. pertussis population.
whooping cough; Bordetella pertussis; pertussis; genetic diversity; molecular typing; wP; aP; acellular vaccines; bacteria; United States; vaccination; immunization; alleles; isolates
Studies performed in several countries have demonstrated the recent emergence and subsequent dominance of circulating Bordetella pertussis strains harboring pertactin and pertussis toxin variants not included in pertussis vaccines. Determination of the pertactin gene variants is commonly performed using a time-consuming and expensive sequence analysis. We developed a simple and reliable pertactin typing algorithm suitable for large-scale screening. The assay correctly identified all pertactin alleles in representative strains. The typing of 231 clinical strains of B. pertussis routinely isolated in Belgium showed that this algorithm was adequate to identify less-frequent prn types like prn9 and prn11.
Recently, eight allelic variants of the pertactin gene (prn1-8) have been characterized in Bordetella pertussis strains isolated in Europe and the United States. It has been suggested that the divergence of the pertactin types of clinical isolates from those of the B. pertussis vaccine strains is a result of vaccine-driven evolution. Sequencing of the prn, which is relatively time-consuming, has so far been the only method for the differentiation of prn types. We have developed a rapid real-time polymerase chain reaction assay suitable for large-scale screening of the prn type of the circulating strains. This method correctly identified the prn type of all tested 41 clinical isolates and two Finnish vaccine strains. The method is simple and reliable and provides an alternative for sequencing in pertussis research.
Despite vaccination since the 1950s, pertussis has persisted and resurged. It remains a major cause of infant death worldwide and is the most prevalent vaccine-preventable disease in developed countries. The resurgence of pertussis has been associated with the expansion of Bordetella pertussis strains with a novel allele for the pertussis toxin (Ptx) promoter, ptxP3, which have replaced resident ptxP1 strains. Compared to ptxP1 strains, ptxP3 produce more Ptx resulting in increased virulence and immune suppression. To elucidate how B. pertussis has adapted to vaccination, we compared genome sequences of two ptxP3 strains with four strains isolated before and after the introduction vaccination.
The distribution of SNPs in regions involved in transcription and translation suggested that changes in gene regulation play an important role in adaptation. No evidence was found for acquisition of novel genes. Modern strains differed significantly from prevaccination strains, both phylogenetically and with respect to particular alleles. The ptxP3 strains were found to have diverged recently from modern ptxP1 strains. Differences between ptxP3 and modern ptxP1 strains included SNPs in a number of pathogenicity-associated genes. Further, both gene inactivation and reactivation was observed in ptxP3 strains relative to modern ptxP1 strains.
Our work suggests that B. pertussis adapted by successive accumulation of SNPs and by gene (in)activation. In particular changes in gene regulation may have played a role in adaptation.
Bordetella pertussis (B. pertussis) is the causative agent of whooping cough, which is a highly contagious disease in the human respiratory tract. Despite vaccination since the 1950s, pertussis remains the most prevalent vaccine-preventable disease in developed countries. A recent resurgence pertussis is associated with the expansion of B. pertussis strains with a novel allele for the pertussis toxin (ptx) promoter ptxP3 in place of resident ptxP1 strains. The recent expansion of ptxP3 strains suggests that these strains carry mutations that have increased their fitness. Compared to the ptxP1 strains, ptxP3 strains produce more Ptx, which results in increased virulence and immune suppression. In this study, we investigated the contribution of gene expression changes of various genes on the increased fitness of the ptxP3 strains. Using genome-wide gene expression profiling, we show that several virulence genes had higher expression levels in the ptxP3 strains compared to the ptxP1 strains. We provide the first evidence that wildtype ptxP3 strains are better colonizers in an intranasal mouse infection model. This study shows that the ptxP3 mutation and the genetic background of ptxP3 strains affect fitness by contributing to the ability to colonize in a mouse infection model. These results show that the genetic background of ptxP3 strains with a higher expression of virulence genes contribute to increased fitness.
BvgA and BvgS, which regulate virulence gene expression in Bordetella pertussis, are members of the two-component signal transduction family. The effects of growth conditions on the ability of BvgAS to activate transcription of fhaB (encoding filamentous hemagglutinin) and ptxA (encoding the S1 subunit of pertussis toxin) were assessed in Escherichia coli by using chromosomal fhaB-lacZYA and ptxA-lacZYA fusions. Although it had previously been reported that a ptxA-lacZYA transcriptional fusion was not activated by bvgAS in E. coli (J. F. Miller, C. R. Roy, and S. Falkow, J. Bacteriol. 171:6345-6348, 1989), we now present evidence that ptxA is activated by bvgAS in E. coli in a manner that is highly dependent on the growth conditions. Higher levels of beta-galactosidase were produced by ptxA-lacZYA in the presence of bvgAS during growth in Stainer-Scholte medium or M9 minimal salts medium with glucose than in Luria-Bertani medium. In contrast, the level of fhaB-lacZYA expression was high during growth in all media. Addition of modulating stimuli which inhibit BvgAS function eliminated expression of ptxA-lacZYA. Levels of beta-galactosidase expressed from the ptx-lacZYA fusion correlated with growth rate and with the final optical density at 600 nm, suggesting that the lower growth rate in M9-glucose and Stainer-Scholte media was responsible for greater accumulation of beta-galactosidase than was seen in Luria-Bertani medium. Overproduction of BvgA was not sufficient for activation of ptxA expression but was sufficient for fhaB expression. However, overproduction of a constitutive BvgA allele (bvgA-Cl) or overproduction of BvgA in the presence of BvgS was able to activate ptxA. Our results demonstrate Bvg-dependent activation of a ptxA-lacZYA fusion in E. coli and indicate that bvg is the only Bordetella locus required for ptxA activation in this heterologous system.
We compared Bordetella pertussis isolates collected in France over the last 10 years, the vaccine strains used for more than 30 years, and isolates collected before the introduction of generalized vaccination. The analysis included serotyping, pulsed-field gel electrophoresis of chromosomal DNA after digestion with XbaI and SpeI, and sequencing of the pt S1 gene, encoding the S1 subunit of pertussis toxin, and the prn gene, encoding the adhesin pertactin. We found that the incidence of infection increases every 3 years. Ninety-five per cent of the isolates analyzed express type 3 fimbriae. Most of the isolates circulating since 1991, unlike the vaccinal strains, express a type A pertussis toxin and a type 2 pertactin. The isolates could be classified into five major groups by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. Most of these groups correlated with the pertactin type expressed by the isolates. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis is more discriminative than sequencing particular genes since it could differentiate isolates expressing type 2 pertactin into two subgroups: those circulating in 1993 to 1997 and those circulating in 1997 to 2001. This observation suggests that there has been continuous evolution of the B. pertussis population.
Acellular Pertussis vaccines against whooping cough caused by Bordetella pertussis present a much-improved safety profile compared to the original vaccine of killed whole cells. The principal antigen of acellular Pertussis vaccine, Pertussis Toxin (PT), must be chemically inactivated to obtain the corresponding toxoid (PTd). This process, however, results in extensive denaturation of the antigen. The development of acellular Pertussis vaccines containing PTd or recombinant PT (rPT) with inactivated S1, Filamentous Hemagglutinin (FHA), and Pertactin (PRN) has shown that the yield of PRN was limiting, whereas FHA was overproduced. To improve antigen yields and process economics, we have constructed strains of Bordetella pertussis that produce enhanced levels of both rPT and PRN.
Three recombinant strains of Bordetella pertussis were obtained by homologous recombination using an allelic exchange vector, pSS4245. In the first construct, the segment encoding PT subunit S1 was replaced by two mutations (R9K and E129G) that removed PT toxicity and Bp-WWC strain was obtained. In the second construct, a second copy of the whole cluster of PT structural genes containing the above mutations was inserted elsewhere into the chromosome of Bp-WWC and the Bp-WWD strain was obtained. This strain generated increased amounts of rPT (3.77 ± 0.53 μg/mL) compared to Bp-WWC (2.61 ± 0.16 μg/mL) and wild type strain (2.2 μg/mL). In the third construct, a second copy of the prn gene was inserted into the chromosome of Bp-WWD to obtain Bp-WWE. Strain Bp-WWE produced PRN at 4.18 ± 1.02 μg/mL in the cell extract which was about two-fold higher than Bp-WWC (2.48 ± 0.10 μg/mL) and Bp-WWD (2.31 ± 0.17 μg/mL). Purified PTd from Bp-WWD at 0.8-1.6 μg/well did not show any toxicity against Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cell whereas purified PT from WT demonstrated a cell clustering endpoint at 2.6 pg/well.
We have constructed Bordetella pertussis strains expressing increased amounts of the antigens, rPT or rPT and PRN. Expression of the third antigen, FHA was unchanged (always in excess). These strains will be useful for the manufacture of affordable acellular Pertussis vaccines.