Pneumocystis species are fungal parasites of mammal lungs showing host specificity. Pneumocystis jirovecii colonizes humans and causes severe pneumonia in immunosuppressed individuals. In the absence of in vitro cultures, the life cycle of these fungi remains poorly known. Sexual reproduction probably occurs, but the system of this process and the mating type (MAT) genes involved are not characterized. In the present study, we used comparative genomics to investigate the issue in P. jirovecii and Pneumocystis carinii, the species infecting rats, as well as in their relative Taphrina deformans. We searched sex-related genes using 103 sequences from the relative Schizosaccharomyces pombe as queries. Genes homologous to several sex-related role categories were identified in all species investigated, further supporting sexuality in these organisms. Extensive in silico searches identified only three putative MAT genes in each species investigated (matMc, matMi, and matPi). In P. jirovecii, these genes clustered on the same contig, proving their contiguity in the genome. This organization seems compatible neither with heterothallism, because two different MAT loci on separate DNA molecules would have been detected, nor with secondary homothallism, because the latter involves generally more MAT genes. Consistently, we did not detect cis-acting sequences for mating type switching in secondary homothallism, and PCR revealed identical MAT genes in P. jirovecii isolates from six patients. A strong synteny of the genomic region surrounding the putative MAT genes exists between the two Pneumocystis species. Our results suggest the hypothesis that primary homothallism is the system of reproduction of Pneumocystis species and T. deformans.
Importance Sexual reproduction among fungi can involve a single partner (homothallism) or two compatible partners (heterothallism). We investigated the issue in three pathogenic fungal relatives: Pneumocystis jirovecii, which causes severe pneumonia in immunocompromised humans; Pneumocystis carinii, which infects rats; and the plant pathogen Taphrina deformans. The nature, the number, and the organization within the genome of the genes involved in sexual reproduction were determined. The three species appeared to harbor a single genomic region gathering only three genes involved in sexual differentiation, an organization which is compatible with sexual reproduction involving a single partner. These findings illuminate the strategy adopted by fungal pathogens to infect their hosts.
Sexual reproduction among fungi can involve a single partner (homothallism) or two compatible partners (heterothallism). We investigated the issue in three pathogenic fungal relatives: Pneumocystis jirovecii, which causes severe pneumonia in immunocompromised humans; Pneumocystis carinii, which infects rats; and the plant pathogen Taphrina deformans. The nature, the number, and the organization within the genome of the genes involved in sexual reproduction were determined. The three species appeared to harbor a single genomic region gathering only three genes involved in sexual differentiation, an organization which is compatible with sexual reproduction involving a single partner. These findings illuminate the strategy adopted by fungal pathogens to infect their hosts.
Comorbidities might predict presence of specific fungal genotypes.
Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia; Pneumocystis jirovecii dihydropteroate synthase; DHPS; HIV; homosexuality; intravenous drug use; dihydropteroate synthase mutations; opportunistic infection; immunocompromised; virus; fungus; fungi; fungal; sulfa resistance; sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim; SMX/TMP; dapsone; pentamidine; atovaquone; antimicrobial drugs; antibiotic; antifungal drugs
Pneumocystis jirovecii is a fungus that causes severe pneumonia in immunocompromised patients. However, its study is hindered by the lack of an in vitro culture method. We report here the genome of P. jirovecii that was obtained from a single bronchoalveolar lavage fluid specimen from a patient. The major challenge was the in silico sorting of the reads from a mixture representing the different organisms of the lung microbiome. This genome lacks virulence factors and most amino acid biosynthesis enzymes and presents reduced GC content and size. Together with epidemiological observations, these features suggest that P. jirovecii is an obligate parasite specialized in the colonization of human lungs, which causes disease only in immune-deficient individuals. This genome sequence will boost research on this deadly pathogen.
Pneumocystis pneumonia is a major cause of mortality in patients with impaired immune systems. The availability of the P. jirovecii genome sequence allows new analyses to be performed which open avenues to solve critical issues for this deadly human disease. The most important ones are (i) identification of nutritional supplements for development of culture in vitro, which is still lacking 100 years after discovery of the pathogen; (ii) identification of new targets for development of new drugs, given the paucity of present treatments and emerging resistance; and (iii) identification of targets for development of vaccines.
Pneumocystis jirovecii is a fungal parasite that colonizes specifically humans and turns into an opportunistic pathogen in immunodeficient individuals. The fungus is able to reproduce extracellularly in host lungs without eliciting massive cellular death. The molecular mechanisms that govern this process are poorly understood, in part because of the lack of an in vitro culture system for Pneumocystis spp. In this study, we explored the origin and evolution of the putative biotrophy of P. jirovecii through comparative genomics and reconstruction of ancestral gene repertoires. We used the maximum parsimony method and genomes of related fungi of the Taphrinomycotina subphylum. Our results suggest that the last common ancestor of Pneumocystis spp. lost 2,324 genes in relation to the acquisition of obligate biotrophy. These losses may result from neutral drift and affect the biosyntheses of amino acids and thiamine, the assimilation of inorganic nitrogen and sulfur, and the catabolism of purines. In addition, P. jirovecii shows a reduced panel of lytic proteases and has lost the RNA interference machinery, which might contribute to its genome plasticity. Together with other characteristics, that is, a sex life cycle within the host, the absence of massive destruction of host cells, difficult culturing, and the lack of virulence factors, these gene losses constitute a unique combination of characteristics which are hallmarks of both obligate biotrophs and animal parasites. These findings suggest that Pneumocystis spp. should be considered as the first described obligate biotrophs of animals, whose evolution has been marked by gene losses.
obligate parasite; lifestyle; gene families; neutral drift; convergent evolution
Determination of the precise composition and variation of microbiota in cystic fibrosis lungs is crucial since chronic inflammation due to microorganisms leads to lung damage and ultimately, death. However, this constitutes a major technical challenge. Culturing of microorganisms does not provide a complete representation of a microbiota, even when using culturomics (high-throughput culture). So far, only PCR-based metagenomics have been investigated. However, these methods are biased towards certain microbial groups, and suffer from uncertain quantification of the different microbial domains. We have explored whole genome sequencing (WGS) using the Illumina high-throughput technology applied directly to DNA extracted from sputa obtained from two cystic fibrosis patients. To detect all microorganism groups, we used four procedures for DNA extraction, each with a different lysis protocol. We avoided biases due to whole DNA amplification thanks to the high efficiency of current Illumina technology. Phylogenomic classification of the reads by three different methods produced similar results. Our results suggest that WGS provides, in a single analysis, a better qualitative and quantitative assessment of microbiota compositions than cultures and PCRs. WGS identified a high quantity of Haemophilus spp. (patient 1) or Staphylococcus spp. plus Streptococcus spp. (patient 2) together with low amounts of anaerobic (Veillonella, Prevotella, Fusobacterium) and aerobic bacteria (Gemella, Moraxella, Granulicatella). WGS suggested that fungal members represented very low proportions of the microbiota, which were detected by cultures and PCRs because of their selectivity. The future increase of reads’ sizes and decrease in cost should ensure the usefulness of WGS for the characterisation of microbiota.
Failure of sulfa or sulfone prophylaxis is associated with mutations in Pneumocystis carinii gene coding for dihydropteroate synthase (DHPS). The DHPS genotype was analyzed in AIDS patients who had two separate episodes of P. carinii pneumonia. The results suggest that DHPS mutations can be selected de novo within patients by the pressure of a sulfa or sulfone drug.
Pneumocystis carinii; pneumonia; fungal typing; drug resistance; drug pressure; mutation; dihydropteroate synthase; AIDS; dispatch
We report a molecular typing and epidemiologic analysis of Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP) cases diagnosed in our geographic area from 1990 to 2000. Our analysis suggests that transmission from patients with active PCP to susceptible persons caused only a few, if any, PCP cases in our setting.
Pneumocystis carinii; pneumonia; molecular epidemiology; typing; disease transmission; dispatch
Taphrina deformans is a fungus responsible for peach leaf curl, an important plant disease. It is phylogenetically assigned to the Taphrinomycotina subphylum, which includes the fission yeast and the mammalian pathogens of the genus Pneumocystis. We describe here the genome of T. deformans in the light of its dual plant-saprophytic/plant-parasitic lifestyle. The 13.3-Mb genome contains few identifiable repeated elements (ca. 1.5%) and a relatively high GC content (49.5%). A total of 5,735 protein-coding genes were identified, among which 83% share similarities with other fungi. Adaptation to the plant host seems reflected in the genome, since the genome carries genes involved in plant cell wall degradation (e.g., cellulases and cutinases), secondary metabolism, the hallmark glyoxylate cycle, detoxification, and sterol biosynthesis, as well as genes involved in the biosynthesis of plant hormones. Genes involved in lipid metabolism may play a role in its virulence. Several locus candidates for putative MAT cassettes and sex-related genes akin to those of Schizosaccharomyces pombe were identified. A mating-type-switching mechanism similar to that found in ascomycetous yeasts could be in effect. Taken together, the findings are consistent with the alternate saprophytic and parasitic-pathogenic lifestyles of T. deformans.
Peach leaf curl is an important plant disease which causes significant losses of fruit production. We report here the genome sequence of the causative agent of the disease, the fungus Taphrina deformans. The genome carries characteristic genes that are important for the plant infection process. These include (i) proteases that allow degradation of the plant tissues; (ii) secondary metabolites which are products favoring interaction of the fungus with the environment, including the host; (iii) hormones that are responsible for the symptom of severely distorted leaves on the host; and (iv) drug detoxification enzymes that confer resistance to fungicides. The availability of the genome allows the design of new drug targets as well as the elaboration of specific management strategies to fight the disease.
Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia (PCP) is a common opportunistic infection. Microscopic diagnosis, including diagnosis using the Merifluor-Pneumocystis direct fluorescent antigen (MP-DFA) test, has limitations. Real-time PCR may assist in diagnosis, but no commercially validated real-time PCR assay has been available to date. MycAssay Pneumocystis is a commercial assay that targets the P. jirovecii mitochondrial large subunit (analytical detection limit, ≤3.5 copies/μl of sample). A multicenter trial recruited 110 subjects: 54 with transplants (40 with lung transplants), 32 with nonmalignant conditions, 13 with leukemia, and 11 with solid tumors; 9 were HIV positive. A total of 110 respiratory samples (92% of which were bronchoalveolar lavage [BAL] specimens) were analyzed by PCR. Performance was characterized relative to investigator-determined clinical diagnosis of PCP (including local diagnostic tests), and PCR results were compared with MP-DFA test results for 83 subjects. Thirteen of 14 subjects with PCP and 9/96 without PCP (including 5 undergoing BAL surveillance after lung transplantation) had positive PCR results; sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values (PPV and NPV, respectively) were 93%, 91%, 59%, and 99%, respectively. Fourteen of 83 subjects for whom PCR and MP-DFA test results were available had PCP; PCR sensitivity, specificity, PPV, and NPV were 93%, 90%, 65%, and 98%, respectively, and MP-DFA test sensitivity, specificity, PPV, and NPV were 93%, 100%, 100%, and 98%. Of the 9 PCR-positive subjects without PCP, 1 later developed PCP. The PCR diagnostic assay compares well with clinical diagnosis using nonmolecular methods. Additional positive results compared with the MP-DFA test may reflect low-level infection or colonization.
Pneumocystis jirovecii is a fungus causing severe pneumonia in immuno-compromised patients. Progress in understanding its pathogenicity and epidemiology has been hampered by the lack of a long-term in vitro culture method. Obligate parasitism of this pathogen has been suggested on the basis of various features but remains controversial. We analysed the 7.0 Mb draft genome sequence of the closely related species Pneumocystis carinii infecting rats, which is a well established experimental model of the disease. We predicted 8’085 (redundant) peptides and 14.9% of them were mapped onto the KEGG biochemical pathways. The proteome of the closely related yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe was used as a control for the annotation procedure (4’974 genes, 14.1% mapped). About two thirds of the mapped peptides of each organism (65.7% and 73.2%, respectively) corresponded to crucial enzymes for the basal metabolism and standard cellular processes. However, the proportion of P. carinii genes relative to those of S. pombe was significantly smaller for the “amino acid metabolism” category of pathways than for all other categories taken together (40 versus 114 against 278 versus 427, P<0.002). Importantly, we identified in P. carinii only 2 enzymes specifically dedicated to the synthesis of the 20 standard amino acids. By contrast all the 54 enzymes dedicated to this synthesis reported in the KEGG atlas for S. pombe were detected upon reannotation of S. pombe proteome (2 versus 54 against 278 versus 427, P<0.0001). This finding strongly suggests that species of the genus Pneumocystis are scavenging amino acids from their host's lung environment. Consequently, they would have no form able to live independently from another organism, and these parasites would be obligate in addition to being opportunistic. These findings have implications for the management of patients susceptible to P. jirovecii infection given that the only source of infection would be other humans.
The present study was performed to assess the interlaboratory reproducibility of the molecular detection and identification of species of Zygomycetes from formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded kidney and brain tissues obtained from experimentally infected mice. Animals were infected with one of five species (Rhizopus oryzae, Rhizopus microsporus, Lichtheimia corymbifera, Rhizomucor pusillus, and Mucor circinelloides). Samples with 1, 10, or 30 slide cuts of the tissues were prepared from each paraffin block, the sample identities were blinded for analysis, and the samples were mailed to each of seven laboratories for the assessment of sensitivity. A protocol describing the extraction method and the PCR amplification procedure was provided. The internal transcribed spacer 1 (ITS1) region was amplified by PCR with the fungal universal primers ITS1 and ITS2 and sequenced. As negative results were obtained for 93% of the tissue specimens infected by M. circinelloides, the data for this species were excluded from the analysis. Positive PCR results were obtained for 93% (52/56), 89% (50/56), and 27% (15/56) of the samples with 30, 10, and 1 slide cuts, respectively. There were minor differences, depending on the organ tissue, fungal species, and laboratory. Correct species identification was possible for 100% (30 cuts), 98% (10 cuts), and 93% (1 cut) of the cases. With the protocol used in the present study, the interlaboratory reproducibility of ITS sequencing for the identification of major Zygomycetes species from formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissues can reach 100%, when enough material is available.
In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, TBF1, an essential gene, influences telomere function but also has other roles in the global regulation of transcription. We have identified a new member of the tbf1 gene family in the mammalian pathogen Pneumocystis carinii. We demonstrate by transspecies complementation that its ectopic expression can provide the essential functions of Schizosaccharomyces pombe tbf1 but that there is no rescue between fission and budding yeast orthologues. Our findings indicate that an essential function of this family of proteins has diverged in the budding and fission yeasts and suggest that effects on telomere length or structure are not the primary cause of inviability in S. pombe tbf1 null strains.
Pneumocystis jirovecii is a fungus which causes severe opportunistic infections in immunocompromised humans. The brl1 gene of P. carinii infecting rats was identified and characterized by using bioinformatics in conjunction with functional complementation in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Schizosaccharomyces pombe. The ectopic expression of this gene rescues null alleles of essential nuclear membrane proteins of the Brr6/Brl1 family in both yeasts.
We describe an outbreak of Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia in a pediatric renal transplant unit, likely attributable to patient-to-patient transmission. Single-strand conformation polymorphism molecular typing showed that 3 affected patients had acquired the same 2 strains of Pneumocystis, which suggests interhuman infection. An infant with mitochondriopathy was the probable index patient.
Pneumocystis jirovecii; pneumonia; PCP; pediatric renal transplantation; single-strand conformation polymorphism; inter-human transmission; dispatch
Most drugs used for prevention and treatment of Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia target enzymes involved in the biosynthesis of folic acid, i.e., dihydropteroate synthase (DHPS) and dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR). Emergence of P. jirovecii drug resistance has been suggested by the association between failure of prophylaxis with sulfa drugs and mutations in DHPS. However, data on the occurrence of mutations in DHFR, the target of trimethoprim and pyrimethamine, are scarce. We examined polymorphisms in P. jirovecii DHFR from 33 patients diagnosed with P. jirovecii pneumonia who were receiving prophylaxis with a DHFR inhibitor (n = 15), prophylaxis without a DHFR inhibitor (n = 11), or no prophylaxis (n = 7). Compared to the wild-type sequence present in GenBank, 19 DHFR nucleotide substitution sites were found in 18 patients with 3 synonymous and 16 nonsynonymous mutations. Of 16 amino acid changes, 6 were located in positions conserved among distant organisms, and five of these six positions are probably involved in the putative active sites of the enzyme. Patients with failure of prophylaxis, including a DHFR inhibitor, were more likely to harbor nonsynonymous DHFR mutations than those who did not receive such prophylaxis (9 of 15 patients versus 2 of 18; P = 0.008). Analysis of the rate of nonsynonymous versus synonymous mutations was consistent with selection of amino acid substitutions in patients with failure of prophylaxis including a DHFR inhibitor. The results suggest that P. jirovecii populations may evolve under selective pressure from DHFR inhibitors, in particular pyrimethamine, and that DHFR mutations may contribute to P. jirovecii drug resistance.
Several typing methods, with different strengths and weaknesses, are available for studies of Pneumocystis pneumonia.
Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP) caused by the opportunistic fungal agent Pneumocystis jirovecii (formerly P. carinii) continues to cause illness and death in HIV-infected patients. In the absence of a culture system to isolate and maintain live organisms, efforts to type and characterize the organism have relied on polymerase chain reaction–based approaches. Studies using these methods have improved understanding of PCP epidemiology, shedding light on sources of infection, transmission patterns, and potential emergence of antimicrobial resistance. One concern, however, is the lack of guidance regarding the appropriateness of different methods and standardization of these methods, which would facilitate comparing results reported by different laboratories.
Pneumocystis; PCP; molecular epidemiology; typing methods; perspective
Molecular evidence indicates that P. jirovecii may be nosocomially transmitted to severely immunosuppressed patients.
Ten Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia (PCP) cases were diagnosed in renal transplant recipients (RTRs) during a 3-year period. Nosocomial transmission from HIV-positive patients with PCP was suspected because these patients shared the same hospital building, were not isolated, and were receiving suboptimal anti-PCP prophylaxis or none. P. jirovecii organisms were typed with the multitarget polymerase chain reaction–single-strand conformation polymorphism method. Among the 45 patients with PCP hospitalized during the 3-year period, 8 RTRs and 6 HIV-infected patients may have encountered at least 1 patient with active PCP within the 3 months before the diagnosis of their own PCP episode. In six instances (five RTRs, one HIV-infected patient), the patients harbored the same P. jirovecii molecular type as that found in the encountered PCP patients. The data suggest that part of the PCP cases observed in this building, particularly those observed in RTRs, were related to nosocomial interhuman transmission.
Epidemiology; Pneumocystis carinii; Pneumocystis jirovecii; interhuman transmission; cluster analysis; sulfa drug resistance; dihydropteroate synthase; single-strand conformation polymorphism; PCP; research
A rapid method that uses PCR–single-strand conformation polymorphism analysis of the intron of the nuclear 26S rRNA gene was shown to differentiate the two Pneumocystis carinii special forms that infect rats, P. carinii f. sp. carinii and P. carinii f. sp. ratti. The method also provides a means for estimation of the relative abundance of the two special forms in the case of a coinfected rat. The results suggest that the method described will help to further standardize the immunosuppressed rat model of P. carinii infection and, thus, contribute to a better understanding of P. carinii infection in humans.
Fluorescence microscopic methods have been used to characterize the cell cycle of Bacillus subtilis at four different growth rates. The data obtained have been used to derive models for cell cycle progression. Like that of Escherichia coli, the period required by B. subtilis for chromosome replication at 37°C was found to be fairly constant (although a little longer, at about 55 min), as was the cell mass at initiation of DNA replication. The cell cycle of B. subtilis differed from that of E. coli in that changes in growth rate affected the average cell length but not the width and also in the relative variability of period between termination of DNA replication and septation. Overall movement of the nucleoid was found to occur smoothly, as in E. coli, but other aspects of nucleoid behavior were consistent with an underlying active partitioning machinery. The models for cell cycle progression in B. subtilis should facilitate the interpretation of data obtained from the recently introduced cytological methods for imaging the assembly and movement of proteins involved in cell cycle dynamics.