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1.  Molecular Signatures Identify a Candidate Target of Balancing Selection in an arcD-Like Gene of Staphylococcus epidermidis 
Journal of molecular evolution  2012;75(1-2):43-54.
A comparative population genetics study revealed high levels of nucleotide polymorphism and intermediate-frequency alleles in an arcC gene of Staphylococcus epidermidis, but not in a homologous gene of the more aggressive human pathogen, Staphylococcus aureus. Further investigation showed that the arcC genes used in the multilocus sequence typing schemes of these two species were paralogs. Phylogenetic analyses of arcC-containing loci, including the arginine catabolic mobile element, from both species, suggested that these loci had an eventful history involving gene duplications, rearrangements, deletions, and horizontal transfers. The peak signatures in the polymorphic S. epidermidis locus were traced to an arcD-like gene adjacent to arcC; these signatures consisted of unusually elevated Tajima’s D and π/K ratios, which were robust to assumptions about recombination and species divergence time and among the most elevated in the S. epidermidis genome. Amino acid polymorphisms, including one that differed in polarity and hydropathy, were located in the peak signatures and defined two allelic lineages. Recombination events were detected between these allelic lineages and potential donors and recipients of S. epidermidis were identified in each case. By comparison, the orthologous gene of S. aureus showed no unusual signatures. The ArcD-like protein belonged to the unknown ion transporter 3 family and appeared to be unrelated to ArcD from the arginine deiminase pathway. These studies report the first comparative population genetics results for staphylococci and the first statistical evidence for a candidate target of balancing selection in S. epidermidis.
PMCID: PMC3493253  PMID: 23053194
Staphylococcus aureus; Staphylococcus epidermidis; Population genetics; Balancing selection; Genetic hitchhiking; Approximate Bayesian computation
2.  Draft Genome Sequences of Five Multilocus Sequence Types of Nonencapsulated Streptococcus pneumoniae 
Genome Announcements  2013;1(4):e00520-13.
Nonencapsulated Streptococcus pneumoniae can colonize the human nasopharynx and cause conjunctivitis and otitis media. Different deletions in the capsular polysaccharide biosynthesis locus and different multilocus sequence types have been described for nonencapsulated strains. Draft genome sequences were generated to provide insight into the genomic diversity of these strains.
PMCID: PMC3735068  PMID: 23887920
3.  Multilocus Sequence Typing and Further Genetic Characterization of the Enigmatic Pathogen, Staphylococcus hominis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e66496.
Staphylococcus hominis is a commensal resident of human skin and an opportunistic pathogen. The species is subdivided into two subspecies, S. hominis subsp. hominis and S. hominis subsp. novobiosepticus, which are difficult to distinguish. To investigate the evolution and epidemiology of S. hominis, a total of 108 isolates collected from 10 countries over 40 years were characterized by classical phenotypic methods and genetic methods. One nonsynonymous mutation in gyrB, scored with a novel SNP typing assay, had a perfect association with the novobiocin-resistant phenotype. A multilocus sequence typing (MLST) scheme was developed from six housekeeping gene fragments, and revealed relatively high levels of genetic diversity and a significant impact of recombination on S. hominis population structure. Among the 40 sequence types (STs) identified by MLST, three STs (ST2, ST16 and ST23) were S. hominis subsp. novobiosepticus, and they distinguished between isolates from different outbreaks, whereas 37 other STs were S. hominis subsp. hominis, one of which was widely disseminated (ST1). A modified PCR assay was developed to detect the presence of ccrAB4 from the SCCmec genetic element. S. hominis subsp. novobiosepticus isolates were oxacillin-resistant and carriers of specific components of SCCmec (mecA class A, ccrAB3, ccrAB4, ccrC), whereas S. hominis subsp. hominis included both oxacillin-sensitive and -resistant isolates and a more diverse array of SCCmec components. Surprisingly, phylogenetic analyses indicated that S. hominis subsp. novobiosepticus may be a polyphyletic and, hence, artificial taxon. In summary, these results revealed the genetic diversity of S. hominis, the identities of outbreak-causing clones, and the evolutionary relationships between subspecies and clones. The pathogenic lifestyle attributed to S. hominis subsp. novobiosepticus may have originated on more than one occasion.
PMCID: PMC3679023  PMID: 23776678
4.  Candidate Targets of Balancing Selection in the Genome of Staphylococcus aureus 
Molecular Biology and Evolution  2011;29(4):1175-1186.
Signatures of balancing selection can highlight polymorphisms and functions that are important to the long-term fitness of a species. We performed a first genome-wide scan for balancing selection in a bacterial species, Staphylococcus aureus, which is a common cause of serious antimicrobial-resistant infections of humans. Using a sliding window approach, the genomes of 16 strains of S. aureus, including 5 new genome sequences presented here, and 1 outgroup strain of S. epidermidis were scanned for signatures of balancing selection. A total of 195 short windows were investigated based on their extreme values of both Tajima's D (>2.03) and π/K ratios (>0.12) relative to the rest of the genome. To test the unusualness of these windows, an Approximate Bayesian Computation framework was used to select a null demographic model that better accounted for the observed data than did the standard neutral model. A total of 186 windows were demonstrated to be unusual under the null model and, thus, represented candidate loci under balancing selection. These 186 candidate windows were located within 99 candidate genes that were spread across 62 different loci. Nearly all the signal (97.2%) was located within coding sequences; balancing selection on gene regulation apparently occurs through the targeting of global regulators such as agr and gra/aps. The agr locus had some of the strongest signatures of balancing selection, which provides new insight into the causes of diversity at this locus. The list of candidate genes included multiple virulence-associated genes and was significantly enriched for functions in amino acid and inorganic ion transport and metabolism and in defense mechanisms against innate immunity and antimicrobials, highlighting these particular functions as important to the fitness of this pathogen.
PMCID: PMC3341823  PMID: 22114360
balancing selection; population genomics; Approximate Bayesian Computation; bacterial evolution; Staphylococcus aureus
5.  Multilocus Sequence Typing and Pulsed Field Gel Electrophoresis of Otitis Media Causing Pathogens 
Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, and Moraxella catarrhalis are the three leading bacteria species associated with otitis media. Defining the molecular epidemiology of bacteria known to cause otitis media is of great importance, in both clinical and research settings. PFGE and MLST provide data for the characterization of isolates’ genetic relatedness, yet they differ in the types of studies for which they are most useful. Consequently, knowledge of both techniques is important for laboratories intending to study the molecular epidemiology of otitis media–associated bacterial pathogens.
PMCID: PMC3581352  PMID: 18839348
Molecular epidemiology; multilocus sequence typing; pulsed field gel electrophoresis; eBURST; Streptococcus pneumoniae; Haemophilus influenzae; Moraxella catarrhalis; otitis media
6.  Draft Genome Sequences of Staphylococcus aureus Sequence Type 34 (ST34) and ST42 Hybrids 
Journal of Bacteriology  2012;194(10):2740-2741.
Staphylococcus aureus is a major cause of antimicrobial-resistant infections of humans. Hybrids of S. aureus, which originate from large-scale chromosomal recombinations between parents of distinct genetic backgrounds, are of interest from clinical and evolutionary perspectives. We present draft genome sequences of two S. aureus hybrids of sequence type 34 (ST34) and ST42.
PMCID: PMC3347186  PMID: 22535928
7.  Streptococcus pneumoniae Clonal Complex 199: Genetic Diversity and Tissue-Specific Virulence 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(4):e18649.
Streptococcus pneumoniae is an important cause of otitis media and invasive disease. Since introduction of the heptavalent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, there has been an increase in replacement disease due to serotype 19A clonal complex (CC)199 isolates. The goals of this study were to 1) describe genetic diversity among nineteen CC199 isolates from carriage, middle ear, blood, and cerebrospinal fluid, 2) compare CC199 19A (n = 3) and 15B/C (n = 2) isolates in the chinchilla model for pneumococcal disease, and 3) identify accessory genes associated with tissue-specific disease among a larger collection of S. pneumoniae isolates. CC199 isolates were analyzed by comparative genome hybridization. One hundred and twenty-seven genes were variably present. The CC199 phylogeny split into two main clades, one comprised predominantly of carriage isolates and another of disease isolates. Ability to colonize and cause disease did not differ by serotype in the chinchilla model. However, isolates from the disease clade were associated with faster time to bacteremia compared to carriage clade isolates. One 19A isolate exhibited hypervirulence. Twelve tissue-specific genes/regions were identified by correspondence analysis. After screening a diverse collection of 326 isolates, spr0282 was associated with carriage. Four genes/regions, SP0163, SP0463, SPN05002 and RD8a were associated with middle ear isolates. SPN05002 also associated with blood and CSF, while RD8a associated with blood isolates. The hypervirulent isolate's genome was sequenced using the Solexa paired-end sequencing platform and compared to that of a reference serotype 19A isolate, revealing the presence of a novel 20 kb region with sequence similarity to bacteriophage genes. Genetic factors other than serotype may modulate virulence potential in CC199. These studies have implications for the long-term effectiveness of conjugate vaccines. Ideally, future vaccines would target common proteins to effectively reduce carriage and disease in the vaccinated population.
PMCID: PMC3077395  PMID: 21533186
8.  Capacity of serotype 19A and 15B/C Streptococcus pneumoniae isolates for experimental otitis media: implications for the conjugate vaccine 
Vaccine  2010;28(12):2450-2457.
Non-vaccine Streptococcus pneumoniae serotypes are increasingly associated with disease. We evaluated isolates of the same sequence type (ST199) but different serotype (15B/C, 19A) for growth in vitro, and pathogenic potential in a chinchilla otitis media model. We also developed a qPCR assay to quantitatively assess each isolate, circumventing the need for selectable markers. In vitro studies showed faster growth of serotype 19A over 15B/C. Both were equally capable of colonization and middle ear infection in this model. Serotype 19A is included in new conjugate vaccine formulations while serotype 15B/C is not. Non-capsular vaccine targets will be important in disease prevention efforts.
PMCID: PMC2851619  PMID: 20067753
Streptococcus pneumoniae; conjugate vaccine; qPCR assay
9.  Improved Multilocus Sequence Typing Scheme for Staphylococcus epidermidis▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2006;45(2):616-619.
We evaluated three multilocus sequence typing (MLST) schemes for Staphylococcus epidermidis and selected the seven most discriminatory loci for the formation of a new, more powerful MLST scheme. This improved scheme gave 31 sequence types (STs) and 5 clonal complexes (CCs), whereas the other schemes delineate 16 to 24 STs and 1 to 3 CCs.
PMCID: PMC1829011  PMID: 17151213

Results 1-9 (9)