Antibiotic resistance (AR) is an epidemic of increasing magnitude requiring rapid identification and profiling for appropriate and timely therapeutic measures and containment strategies. In this context, ciprofloxacin is part of the first-line of countermeasures against numerous high consequence bacteria. Significant resistance can occur via single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) and deletions within ciprofloxacin targeted genes. Ideally, use of ciprofloxacin would be prefaced with AR determination to avoid overuse or misuse of the antibiotic. Here, we describe the development and evaluation of a panel of 44 single-stranded molecular inversion probes (MIPs) coupled to next-generation sequencing (NGS) for the detection of genetic variants known to confer ciprofloxacin resistance in Bacillus anthracis, Yersinia pestis, and Francisella tularensis. Sequencing results demonstrate MIPs capture and amplify targeted regions of interest at significant levels of coverage. Depending on the genetic variant, limits of detection (LOD) for high-throughput pooled sequencing ranged from approximately 300–1800 input genome copies. LODs increased 10-fold in the presence of contaminating human genome DNA. In addition, we show that MIPs can be used as an enrichment step with high resolution melt (HRM) real-time PCR which is a sensitive assay with a rapid time-to-answer. Overall, this technology is a multiplexable upfront enrichment applicable with multiple downstream molecular assays for the detection of targeted genetic regions.
Early detection of Ebola virus (EBOV) infection is essential to halting transmission and adjudicating appropriate treatment. However, current methods rely on viral identification, and this approach can misdiagnose presymptomatic and asymptomatic individuals. In contrast, disease-driven alterations in the host transcriptome can be exploited for pathogen-specific diagnostic biomarkers. Here, we present for the first time EBOV-induced changes in circulating miRNA populations of nonhuman primates (NHPs) and humans. We retrospectively profiled longitudinally-collected plasma samples from rhesus macaques challenged via intramuscular and aerosol routes and found 36 miRNAs differentially present in both groups. Comparison of miRNA abundances to viral loads uncovered 15 highly correlated miRNAs common to EBOV-infected NHPs and humans. As proof of principle, we developed an eight-miRNA classifier that correctly categorized infection status in 64/74 (86%) human and NHP samples. The classifier identified acute infections in 27/29 (93.1%) samples and in 6/12 (50%) presymptomatic NHPs. These findings showed applicability of NHP-derived miRNAs to a human cohort, and with additional research the resulting classifiers could impact the current capability to diagnose presymptomatic and asymptomatic EBOV infections.
Research with high biocontainment pathogens such as Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV) and Lassa virus (LASV) is expensive, potentially hazardous, and limited to select institutions. Surrogate pathogens such as Punta Toro virus (PTV) for RVFV infection and Pichinde virus (PICV) for LASV infection allow research to be performed under more permissive BSL-2 conditions. Although used as infection models, PTV and PICV have no standard real-time RT-qPCR assays to detect and quantify pathogenesis. PTV is also a human pathogen, making a standardized detection assay essential for biosurveillance. Here, we developed and characterized two real-time RT-qPCR assays for PICV and PTV by optimizing assay conditions and measuring the limit of detection (LOD) and performance in multiple clinical matrices.
Total nucleic acid from virus-infected Vero E6 cells was used to optimize TaqMan-minor groove binder (MGB) real-time RT-qPCR assays. A 10-fold dilution series of nucleic acid was used to perform analytical experiments with 60 replicates used to confirm assay LODs. Serum and whole blood spiked with 10-fold dilutions of PTV and PICV virus were assessed as matrices in a mock clinical context. The Cq, or cycle at which the fluoresce of each sample first crosses a threshold line, was determined using the second derivative method using Roche LightCycler 480 software version 1.5.1. Digital droplet PCR (ddPCR) was utilized to quantitatively determine RNA target counts/μl for PTV and PICV.
Optimized PTV and PICV assays had LODs of 1000 PFU/ml and 100 PFU/ml, respectively, and this LOD was confirmed in 60/60 (PTV) and 58/60 (PICV) positive replicates. Preliminary mock clinical LODs remained consistent in serum and whole blood for PTV and PICV at 1000 PFU/ml and 100 PFU/ml. An exclusivity panel showed no cross reaction with near neighbors.
PTV and PICV Taq-man MGB based real-time RT-qPCR assays developed here showed relevant sensitivity and reproducibility in samples extracted from a variety of clinical matrices. These assays will be useful as a standard by researchers for future experiments utilizing PTV and PICV as infection models, offering the ability to track infection and viral replication kinetics during research studies.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12985-016-0509-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Real-time RT-qPCR; Pichinde virus; Punta Toro virus; Bunyaviruses; Arenaviruses
Moraxella macacae is a recently described bacterial pathogen that causes epistaxis or so-called bloody nose syndrome in captive macaques. The aim of this study was to develop specific molecular diagnostic assays for M. macacae and to determine their performance characteristics.
We developed six real-time PCR assays on the Roche LightCycler. The accuracy, precision, selectivity, and limit of detection (LOD) were determined for each assay, in addition to further validation by testing nasal swabs from macaques presenting with epistaxis at the Tulane National Primate Research Center.
All assays exhibited 100% specificity and were highly sensitive with an LOD of 10 fg for chromosomal assays and 1 fg for the plasmid assay. Testing of nasal swabs from 10 symptomatic macaques confirmed the presence of M. macacae in these animals.
We developed several accurate, sensitive, and species-specific real-time PCR assays for the detection of M. macacae in captive macaques.
epistaxis; molecular diagnostics; nonhuman primates; veterinary microbiology
Here, we sequenced the completed genome of Yersinia pestis EV76D and KIM 10v, two genomes used as references in assay development, to improved high-quality draft status.
We sequenced the complete genome of Francisella novicida DPG 3A-IS to closed and finished status. This is a warm spring isolate recovered from Hobo Warm Spring (Utah, USA). The final assembly is available in NCBI under accession number CP012037.
The effects of EBOV evolution on diagnostic assays and therapeutic drugs appear to be low.
To support Liberia’s response to the ongoing Ebola virus (EBOV) disease epidemic in Western Africa, we established in-country advanced genomic capabilities to monitor EBOV evolution. Twenty-five EBOV genomes were sequenced at the Liberian Institute for Biomedical Research, which provided an in-depth view of EBOV diversity in Liberia during September 2014–February 2015. These sequences were consistent with a single virus introduction to Liberia; however, shared ancestry with isolates from Mali indicated at least 1 additional instance of movement into or out of Liberia. The pace of change is generally consistent with previous estimates of mutation rate. We observed 23 nonsynonymous mutations and 1 nonsense mutation. Six of these changes are within known binding sites for sequence-based EBOV medical countermeasures; however, the diagnostic and therapeutic impact of EBOV evolution within Liberia appears to be low.
viral countermeasures; genomics; viral hemorrhagic fever; Ebola virus; filovirus; negative-strand RNA virus; viruses; Liberia
Genome sequence analyses of the 2014 Ebola Virus (EBOV) isolates revealed a potential problem with the diagnostic assays currently in use; i.e., drifting genomic profiles of the virus may affect the sensitivity or even produce false-negative results. We evaluated signature erosion in ebolavirus molecular assays using an in silico approach and found frequent potential false-negative and false-positive results. We further empirically evaluated many EBOV assays, under real time PCR conditions using EBOV Kikwit (1995) and Makona (2014) RNA templates. These results revealed differences in performance between assays but were comparable between the old and new EBOV templates. Using a whole genome approach and a novel algorithm, termed BioVelocity, we identified new signatures that are unique to each of EBOV, Sudan virus (SUDV), and Reston virus (RESTV). Interestingly, many of the current assay signatures do not fall within these regions, indicating a potential drawback in the past assay design strategies. The new signatures identified in this study may be evaluated with real-time reverse transcription PCR (rRT-PCR) assay development and validation. In addition, we discuss regulatory implications and timely availability to impact a rapidly evolving outbreak using existing but perhaps less than optimal assays versus redesign these assays for addressing genomic changes.
EBOV; Western African outbreak; WGS; qRT-PCR; signature erosion; PSET; BioVelocity
Francisella tularensis is a highly infectious bacterium with the potential to cause high fatality rates if infections are untreated. To aid in the development of rapid and accurate detection assays, we have sequenced and annotated the genomes of 18 F. tularensis and Francisella philomiragia strains.
The genus Yersinia includes three human pathogens, of which Yersinia pestis is responsible for >2,000 illnesses each year. To aid in the development of detection assays and aid further phylogenetic elucidation, we sequenced and assembled the complete genomes of 32 strains (across 9 Yersinia species).
In 2011, the Association of Analytical Communities (AOAC) International released a list of Bacillus strains relevant to biothreat molecular detection assays. We present the complete and annotated genome assemblies for the 15 strains listed on the inclusivity panel, as well as the 20 strains listed on the exclusivity panel.
The genus Burkholderia encompasses both pathogenic (including Burkholderia mallei and Burkholderia pseudomallei, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Category B listed), and nonpathogenic Gram-negative bacilli. Here we present full genome sequences for a panel of 59 Burkholderia strains, selected to aid in detection assay development.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) represent new and potentially informative diagnostic targets for disease detection and prognosis. However, little work exists documenting the effect of TRIzol, a common viral inactivation and nucleic acid extraction reagent, on miRNA purification. Here, we developed an optimized protocol for miRNA extraction from plasma samples by evaluating five different RNA extraction kits, TRIzol phase separation, purification additives, and initial plasma sample volume. This method was then used for downstream profiling of plasma miRNAs found in archived samples from one nonhuman primate (NHP) experimentally challenged with Ebola virus by the aerosol route.
Comparison of real-time RT-PCR results for spiked-in and endogenous miRNA sequences determined extraction efficiencies from five different RNA purification kits. These experiments showed that 50 μL plasma processed using the QIAGEN miRNeasy Mini Kit with 5 μg of glycogen as a co-precipitant yielded the highest recovery of endogenous miRNAs. Using this optimized protocol, miRNAs from archived plasma samples of one rhesus macaque challenged with aerosolized Ebola virus was profiled using a targeted real-time PCR array. A total of 519 of the 752 unique miRNAs assayed were present in the plasma samples at day 0 and day 7 (time of death) post-exposure. Statistical analyses revealed 25 sequences significantly up- or down-regulated between day 0 and day 7 post infection, validating the utility of the extraction method for plasma miRNA profiling.
This study contributes to the knowledgebase of circulating miRNA extraction methods and expands on the potential applications of cell-free miRNA profiling for diagnostics and pathogenesis studies. Specifically, we optimized an extraction protocol for miRNAs from TRIzol-inactivated plasma samples that can be used for highly pathogenic viruses.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12864-015-1299-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
microRNA; TRIzol; Ebola virus; RNA extraction; Plasma; Biomarker; RT-PCR; Nonhuman primate
Bacillus cereus strain 03BB87, a blood culture isolate, originated in a 56-year-old male muller operator with a fatal case of pneumonia in 2003. Here we present the finished genome sequence of that pathogen, including a 5.46-Mb chromosome and two plasmids (209 and 52 Kb, respectively).
Magnetic beads offer superior impurity removal and nucleic acid selection over older extraction methods. The performances of nucleic acid extraction of biothreat agents in blood or buffer by easyMAG, MagNA Pure, EZ1 Advanced XL, and Nordiag Arrow were evaluated. All instruments showed excellent performance in blood; however, the easyMAG had the best precision and versatility.
A detailed understanding of the circulating pathogens in a particular geographic location aids in effectively utilizing targeted, rapid diagnostic assays, thus allowing for appropriate therapeutic and containment procedures. This is especially important in regions prevalent for highly pathogenic viruses co-circulating with other endemic pathogens such as the malaria parasite. The importance of biosurveillance is highlighted by the ongoing Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa. For example, a more comprehensive assessment of the regional pathogens could have identified the risk of a filovirus disease outbreak earlier and led to an improved diagnostic and response capacity in the region. In this context, being able to rapidly screen a single sample for multiple pathogens in a single tube reaction could improve both diagnostics as well as pathogen surveillance. Here, probes were designed to capture identifying filovirus sequence for the ebolaviruses Sudan, Ebola, Reston, Taï Forest, and Bundibugyo and the Marburg virus variants Musoke, Ci67, and Angola. These probes were combined into a single probe panel, and the captured filovirus sequence was successfully identified using the MiSeq next-generation sequencing platform. This panel was then used to identify the specific filovirus from nonhuman primates experimentally infected with Ebola virus as well as Bundibugyo virus in human sera samples from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, thus demonstrating the utility for pathogen detection using clinical samples. While not as sensitive and rapid as real-time PCR, this panel, along with incorporating additional sequence capture probe panels, could be used for broad pathogen screening and biosurveillance.
Acinetobacter baumannii is an emerging nosocomial pathogen, and therefore high-quality genome assemblies for this organism are needed to aid in detection, diagnostic, and treatment technologies. Here we present the improved draft assembly of A. baumannii ATCC 19606 in two scaffolds. This 3,953,621-bp genome contains 3,750 coding regions and has a 39.1% G+C content.
Rapid pathogen detection is crucial for the timely introduction of therapeutics. Two groups (one in the United Kingdom and one in the United States) independently evaluated inhibitor-resistant PCR reagents for the direct testing of substrates. In the United Kingdom, a multiplexed Bacillus anthracis (target) and Bacillus subtilis (internal-control) PCR was used to evaluate 4 reagents against 5 PCR inhibitors and down-selected the TaqMan Fast Virus 1-Step master mix (Life Technologies Inc.). In the United States, four real-time PCR assays (targeting B. anthracis, Brucella melitensis, Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus [VEEV], and Orthopoxvirus spp.) were used to evaluate 5 reagents (plus the Fast Virus master mix) against buffer, blood, and soil samples and down-selected the KAPA Blood Direct master mix (KAPA Biosystems Inc.) with added Platinum Taq (Life Technologies). The down-selected reagents underwent further testing. In the United Kingdom experiments, both reagents were tested against seven contrived aerosol collector samples containing B. anthracis Ames DNA and B. subtilis spores from a commercial formulation (BioBall). In PCR assays with reaction mixtures containing 40% crude sample, an airfield-collected sample induced inhibition of the B. subtilis PCR with the KAPA reagent and complete failure of both PCRs with the Fast Virus reagent. However, both reagents allowed successful PCR for all other samples—which inhibited PCRs with a non-inhibitor-resistant reagent. In the United States, a cross-assay limit-of-detection (LoD) study in blood was conducted. The KAPA Blood Direct reagent allowed the detection of agent DNA (by four PCRs) at higher concentrations of blood in the reaction mixture (2.5%) than the Fast Virus reagent (0.5%), although LoDs differed between assays and reagent combinations. Across both groups, the KAPA Blood Direct reagent was determined to be the optimal reagent for inhibition relief in PCR.
Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is commonly used for pathogen detection in clinical and environmental samples. These sample matrices often contain inhibitors of PCR, which is a primary reason for sample processing; however, the purification process is highly inefficient, becoming unacceptable at lower signature concentrations. One potential solution is direct PCR assessment without sample processing. Here, we evaluated nine inhibitor-resistant PCR reagents for direct detection of Francisella tularensis in seven different clinical and environmental samples using an established real-time PCR assay to assess ability to overcome PCR inhibition. While several of these reagents were designed for standard PCR, the described inhibitor resistant properties (ex. Omni Klentaq can amplify target DNA samples of up to 20% whole blood or soil) led to our evaluation with real-time PCR. A preliminary limit of detection (LOD) was determined for each chemistry in whole blood and buffer, and LODs (20 replicates) were determined for the top five chemistries in each matrix (buffer, whole blood, sputum, stool, swab, soil, and sand). Not surprisingly, no single chemistry performed the best across all of the different matrices evaluated. For instance, Phusion Blood Direct PCR Kit, Phire Hot Start DNA polymerase, and Phire Hot Start DNA polymerase with STR Boost performed best for direct detection in whole blood while Phire Hot Start DNA polymerase with STR Boost were the only reagents to yield an LOD in the femtogram range for soil. Although not the best performer across all matrices, KAPA Blood PCR kit produced the most consistent results among the various conditions assessed. Overall, while these inhibitor resistant reagents show promise for direct amplification of complex samples by real-time PCR, the amount of template required for detection would not be in a clinically relevant range for most matrices.
In May of 2011, an enteroaggregative Escherichia coli O104:H4 strain that had acquired a Shiga toxin 2-converting phage caused a large outbreak of bloody diarrhea in Europe which was notable for its high prevalence of hemolytic uremic syndrome cases. Several studies have described the genomic inventory and phylogenies of strains associated with the outbreak and a collection of historical E. coli O104:H4 isolates using draft genome assemblies. We present the complete, closed genome sequences of an isolate from the 2011 outbreak (2011C–3493) and two isolates from cases of bloody diarrhea that occurred in the Republic of Georgia in 2009 (2009EL–2050 and 2009EL–2071). Comparative genome analysis indicates that, while the Georgian strains are the nearest neighbors to the 2011 outbreak isolates sequenced to date, structural and nucleotide-level differences are evident in the Stx2 phage genomes, the mer/tet antibiotic resistance island, and in the prophage and plasmid profiles of the strains, including a previously undescribed plasmid with homology to the pMT virulence plasmid of Yersinia pestis. In addition, multiphenotype analysis showed that 2009EL–2071 possessed higher resistance to polymyxin and membrane-disrupting agents. Finally, we show evidence by electron microscopy of the presence of a common phage morphotype among the European and Georgian strains and a second phage morphotype among the Georgian strains. The presence of at least two stx2 phage genotypes in host genetic backgrounds that may derive from a recent common ancestor of the 2011 outbreak isolates indicates that the emergence of stx2 phage-containing E. coli O104:H4 strains probably occurred more than once, or that the current outbreak isolates may be the result of a recent transfer of a new stx2 phage element into a pre-existing stx2-positive genetic background.
Staphylococcus aureus infections can be difficult to treat due to both multidrug resistance and the organism's remarkable ability to persist in the host. Persistence and the evolution of resistance may be related to several complex regulatory networks, such as the SOS response, which modifies transcription in response to environmental stress. To understand how S. aureus persists during antibiotic therapy and eventually emerges resistant, we characterized its global transcriptional response to ciprofloxacin. We found that ciprofloxacin induces prophage mobilization as well as significant alterations in metabolism, most notably the up-regulation of the tricarboxylic acid cycle. In addition, we found that ciprofloxacin induces the SOS response, which we show, by comparison of a wild-type strain and a non-SOS-inducible lexA mutant strain, includes the derepression of 16 genes. While the SOS response of S. aureus is much more limited than those of Escherichia coli and Bacillus subtilis, it is similar to that of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and includes RecA, LexA, several hypothetical proteins, and a likely error-prone Y family polymerase whose homologs in other bacteria are required for induced mutation. We also examined induced mutation and found that either the inability to derepress the SOS response or the lack of the LexA-regulated polymerase renders S. aureus unable to evolve antibiotic resistance in vitro in response to UV damage. The data suggest that up-regulation of the tricarboxylic acid cycle and induced mutation facilitate S. aureus persistence and evolution of resistance during antibiotic therapy.
Most LuxR homologues function as activators of transcription during the process of quorum sensing, but a few, including EsaR and ExpREcc, negatively impact gene expression. The LuxR-activated luxI promoter and LuxR binding site, the lux box, were used in artificial contexts to assess the potential for transcriptional activation and DNA binding by EsaR and ExpREcc. Although the acyl-homoserine lactone responsiveness of both proteins is the opposite of that shown by most LuxR family members, EsaR and ExpREcc have preserved the ability to interact with RNA polymerase and activate transcription despite their low affinity for the lux box DNA.