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1.  Role of Urinary Cathelicidin LL-37 and Human β-Defensin 1 in Uncomplicated Escherichia coli Urinary Tract Infections 
Infection and Immunity  2014;82(4):1572-1578.
Cathelicidin (LL-37) and human β-defensin 1 (hBD-1) are important components of the innate defense in the urinary tract. The aim of this study was to characterize whether these peptides are important for developing uncomplicated Escherichia coli urinary tract infections (UTIs). This was investigated by comparing urinary peptide levels of UTI patients during and after infection to those of controls, as well as characterizing the fecal flora of participants with respect to susceptibility to LL-37 and in vivo virulence. Forty-seven UTI patients and 50 controls who had never had a UTI were included. Participants were otherwise healthy, premenopausal, adult women. LL-37 MIC levels were compared for fecal E. coli clones from patients and controls and were also compared based on phylotypes (A, B1, B2, and D). In vivo virulence was investigated in the murine UTI model by use of selected fecal isolates from patients and controls. On average, UTI patients had significantly more LL-37 in urine during infection than postinfection, and patient LL-37 levels postinfection were significantly lower than those of controls. hBD-1 showed similar urine levels for UTI patients and controls. Fecal E. coli isolates from controls had higher LL-37 susceptibility than fecal and UTI E. coli isolates from UTI patients. In vivo studies showed a high level of virulence of fecal E. coli isolates from both patients and controls and showed no difference in virulence correlated with the LL-37 MIC level. The results indicate that the concentration of LL-37 in the urinary tract and low susceptibility to LL-37 may increase the likelihood of UTI in a complex interplay between host and pathogen attributes.
doi:10.1128/IAI.01393-13
PMCID: PMC3993379  PMID: 24452682
2.  Origin and Evolution of European Community-Acquired Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus 
mBio  2014;5(5):e01044-14.
ABSTRACT
Community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) was recognized in Europe and worldwide in the late 1990s. Within a decade, several genetically and geographically distinct CA-MRSA lineages carrying the small SCCmec type IV and V genetic elements and the Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL) emerged around the world. In Europe, the predominant CA-MRSA strain belongs to clonal complex 80 (CC80) and is resistant to kanamycin/amikacin and fusidic acid. CC80 was first reported in 1993 but was relatively rare until the late 1990s. It has since been identified throughout North Africa, the Middle East, and Europe, with recent sporadic reports in sub-Saharan Africa. While strongly associated with skin and soft tissue infections, it is rarely found among asymptomatic carriers. Methicillin-sensitive S. aureus (MSSA) CC80 strains are extremely rare except in sub-Saharan Africa. In the current study, we applied whole-genome sequencing to a global collection of both MSSA and MRSA CC80 isolates. Phylogenetic analyses strongly suggest that the European epidemic CA-MRSA lineage is derived from a PVL-positive MSSA ancestor from sub-Saharan Africa. Moreover, the tree topology suggests a single acquisition of both the SCCmec element and a plasmid encoding the fusidic acid resistance determinant. Four canonical SNPs distinguish the derived CA-MRSA lineage and include a nonsynonymous mutation in accessory gene regulator C (agrC). These changes were associated with a star-like expansion into Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa in the early 1990s, including multiple cases of cross-continent imports likely driven by human migrations.
IMPORTANCE
With increasing levels of CA-MRSA reported from most parts of the Western world, there is a great interest in understanding the origin and factors associated with the emergence of these epidemic lineages. To trace the origin, evolution, and dissemination pattern of the European CA-MRSA clone (CC80), we sequenced a global collection of strains of the S. aureus CC80 lineage. Our study determined that a single descendant of a PVL-positive methicillin-sensitive ancestor circulating in sub-Saharan Africa rose to become the dominant CA-MRSA clone in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. In the transition from a methicillin-susceptible lineage to a successful CA-MRSA clone, it simultaneously became resistant to fusidic acid, a widely used antibiotic for skin and soft tissue infections, thus demonstrating the importance of antibiotic selection in the success of this clone. This finding furthermore highlights the significance of horizontal gene acquisitions and underscores the combined importance of these factors for the success of CA-MRSA.
doi:10.1128/mBio.01044-14
PMCID: PMC4173770  PMID: 25161186
3.  Polymorphisms in the Inflammatory Pathway Genes TLR2, TLR4, TLR9, LY96, NFKBIA, NFKB1, TNFA, TNFRSF1A, IL6R, IL10, IL23R, PTPN22, and PPARG Are Associated with Susceptibility of Inflammatory Bowel Disease in a Danish Cohort 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e98815.
Background
The inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC), result from the combined effects of susceptibility genes and environmental factors. Polymorphisms in genes regulating inflammation may explain part of the genetic heritage.
Methods
Using a candidate gene approach, 39 mainly functional single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 26 genes regulating inflammation were assessed in a clinical homogeneous group of severely diseased patients consisting of 624 patients with CD, 411 patients with UC and 795 controls. The results were analysed using logistic regression.
Results
Sixteen polymorphisms in 13 genes involved in regulation of inflammation were associated with risk of CD and/or UC (p≤0.05). The polymorphisms TLR2 (rs1816702), NFKB1 (rs28362491), TNFRSF1A (rs4149570), IL6R (rs4537545), IL23R (rs11209026) and PTPN22 (rs2476601) were associated with risk of CD and the polymorphisms TLR2 (rs1816702), TLR4 (rs1554973 and rs12377632), TLR9 (rs352139), LY96 (rs11465996), NFKBIA (rs696), TNFA (rs1800629), TNFRSF1A (rs4149570), IL10 (rs3024505), IL23R (rs11209026), PTPN22 (rs2476601) and PPARG (rs1801282) were associated with risk of UC. When including all patients (IBD) the polymorphisms TLR2 (rs4696480 and rs1816702), TLR4 (rs1554973 and rs12377632), TLR9 (rs187084), TNFRSF1A (rs4149570), IL6R (rs4537545), IL10 (rs3024505), IL23R (rs11209026) and PTPN22 (rs2476601) were associated with risk. After Bonferroni correction for multiple testing, both the homozygous and the heterozygous variant genotypes of IL23R G>A(rs11209026) (ORCD,adj: 0.38, 95% CI: 0.21–0.67, p = 0.03; ORIBD,adj 0.43, 95% CI: 0.28–0.67, p = 0.007) and PTPN22 1858 G>A(rs2476601) (ORCD,unadj 0.54, 95% CI: 0.41–0.72, p = 7*10−4; ORIBD,unadj: 0.61, 95% CI: 0.48–0.77, p = 0.001) were associated with reduced risk of CD.
Conclusion
The biological effects of the studied polymorphisms suggest that genetically determined high inflammatory response was associated with increased risk of CD. The many SNPs found in TLRs suggest that the host microbial composition or environmental factors in the gut are involved in risk of IBD in genetically susceptible individuals.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0098815
PMCID: PMC4074037  PMID: 24971461
4.  Anti-TNF Treatment Response in Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients Is Associated with Genetic Variation in the NLRP3-Inflammasome 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e100361.
Objective
Many patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) benefit from tumor necrosis factor-α blocking treatment (anti-TNF), but about one third do not respond. The objective of this study was to replicate and extend previously found associations between anti-TNF treatment response and genetic variation in the TNF-, NF-κB- and pattern recognition receptor signalling pathways.
Methods
Forty-one single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), including 34 functional, in 28 genes involved in inflammatory pathways were assessed in 538 anti-TNF naive Danish RA patients with clinical data. Multivariable logistic regression analyses were performed to test associations between genotypes and treatment response at 3–6 months using the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) response criterion. American College of Rheumatology treatment response (ACR50) and relative change in 28-joint disease activity score (relDAS28) were used as secondary outcomes. Subgroup analyses were stratified according to smoking status, type of anti-TNF drug and IgM-Rheumatoid Factor (IgM-RF) status. False discovery rate (FDR) controlling was used to adjust for multiple testing.
Results
Statistically significant associations with EULAR response were found for two SNPs in NLRP3(rs4612666) (OR (odds ratio) for good/moderate response = 0.64 (95% confidence interval: 0.44–0.95), p = 0.025, q = 0.95) and INFG(rs2430561) (OR = 0.40 (0.21–0.76), p = 0.005, q = 0.18) and among IgM-RF positive patients for TNFRS1A(rs4149570) (0.59 (0.36–0.98), p = 0.040, q = 0.76). Current smokers who carried the NLRP3(rs4612666) variant allele were less likely to benefit from anti-TNF treatment (OR = 0.24 (0.10–0.56), p = 0.001, q = 0.04).
Conclusions
In a population of Danish RA patients, we confirm the NLRP3 gene as associated with EULAR anti-TNF response as previously reported. The NLRP3 variant (T) allele is associated with lower treatment response, in particular among current smokers. Furthermore, we find that a functional polymorphism in the interferon-γ gene is associated with anti-TNF response. All findings should be tested by replication in independent validation cohorts and augmented by assessing cytokine levels and activities of the relevant gene products.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0100361
PMCID: PMC4072633  PMID: 24967817
5.  The Epidemic of Extended-Spectrum-β-Lactamase-Producing Escherichia coli ST131 Is Driven by a Single Highly Pathogenic Subclone, H30-Rx 
mBio  2013;4(6):e00377-13.
ABSTRACT
The Escherichia coli sequence type 131 (ST131) clone is notorious for extraintestinal infections, fluoroquinolone resistance, and extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL) production, attributable to a CTX-M-15-encoding mobile element. Here, we applied pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and whole-genome sequencing to reconstruct the evolutionary history of the ST131 clone. PFGE-based cluster analyses suggested that both fluoroquinolone resistance and ESBL production had been acquired by multiple ST131 sublineages through independent genetic events. In contrast, the more robust whole-genome-sequence-based phylogenomic analysis revealed that fluoroquinolone resistance was confined almost entirely to a single, rapidly expanding ST131 subclone, designated H30-R. Strikingly, 91% of the CTX-M-15-producing isolates also belonged to a single, well-defined clade nested within H30-R, which was named H30-Rx due to its more extensive resistance. Despite its tight clonal relationship with H30Rx, the CTX-M-15 mobile element was inserted variably in plasmid and chromosomal locations within the H30-Rx genome. Screening of a large collection of recent clinical E. coli isolates both confirmed the global clonal expansion of H30-Rx and revealed its disproportionate association with sepsis (relative risk, 7.5; P < 0.001). Together, these results suggest that the high prevalence of CTX-M-15 production among ST131 isolates is due primarily to the expansion of a single, highly virulent subclone, H30-Rx.
IMPORTANCE
We applied an advanced genomic approach to study the recent evolutionary history of one of the most important Escherichia coli strains in circulation today. This strain, called sequence type 131 (ST131), causes multidrug-resistant bladder, kidney, and bloodstream infections around the world. The rising prevalence of antibiotic resistance in E. coli is making these infections more difficult to treat and is leading to increased mortality. Past studies suggested that many different ST131 strains gained resistance to extended-spectrum cephalosporins independently. In contrast, our research indicates that most extended-spectrum-cephalosporin-resistant ST131 strains belong to a single highly pathogenic subclone, called H30-Rx. The clonal nature of H30-Rx may provide opportunities for vaccine or transmission prevention-based control strategies, which could gain importance as H30-Rx and other extraintestinal pathogenic E. coli subclones become resistant to our best antibiotics.
doi:10.1128/mBio.00377-13
PMCID: PMC3870262  PMID: 24345742
6.  Complete Genome Sequence of the Epidemic and Highly Virulent CTX-M-15-Producing H30-Rx Subclone of Escherichia coli ST131 
Genome Announcements  2013;1(6):e00988-13.
We report the complete genome sequence, including five complete plasmid sequences, of Escherichia coli ST131 isolate JJ1886. The isolate was obtained in 2007 in the United States from a patient with fatal urosepsis and belongs to the virulent, CTX-M-15-producing H30-Rx sublineage.
doi:10.1128/genomeA.00988-13
PMCID: PMC3853059  PMID: 24309736
7.  Genome Wide Peripheral Blood Leukocyte DNA Methylation Microarrays Identified a Single Association with Inflammatory Bowel Diseases 
Inflammatory bowel diseases  2012;18(12):10.1002/ibd.22956.
Background
Crohn disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC) are common forms of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). Monozygotic (MZ) twin discordance rates and epidemiologic data implicate that environmental changes and epigenetic factors may play a pathogenic role in IBD. DNA methylation (the methylation of cytosines within CpG dinucleotides) is an epigenetic modification, which can respond to environmental influences. We investigated whether DNA methylation might be connected with IBD in peripheral blood leukocyte (PBL) DNA by utilizing genome-wide microarrays.
Methods
Two different high-throughput microarray based methods for genome wide DNA methylation analysis were employed. First, DNA isolated from MZ twin pairs concordant (CD: 4; UC: 3) and discordant (CD: 4; UC: 7) for IBD was interrogated by a custom made methylation specific amplification microarray (MSAM). Second, the recently developed Illumina Infinium HumanMethylation450 BeadChip arrays were used on 48 samples of PBL DNA from discordant MZ twin pairs (CD:3; UC:3) and treatment naive pediatric cases of IBD (CD:14; UC:8), as well as controls (n=14). The microarrays were validated with bisulfite pyrosequencing.
Results
The Methylation BeadChip approach identified a single DNA methylation association of IBD at TEPP (testis, prostate and placenta-expressed protein) when DNA isolated selectively from peripheral blood mononuclear cells was analyzed (8.6% increase in methylation between CD and control, FDR=0.0065).
Conclusions
Microarray interrogation of IBD dependent DNA methylation from PBLs appears to have limited ability to detect significant disease associations. More detailed and/or selective approaches may be useful for the elucidation of connections between the DNA methylome and IBD in the future.
doi:10.1002/ibd.22956
PMCID: PMC3812910  PMID: 22467598
inflammatory bowel disease; DNA methylation; peripheral blood; twin; TEPP
8.  Rapid Differentiation between Livestock-Associated and Livestock-Independent Staphylococcus aureus CC398 Clades 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79645.
Staphylococcus aureus clonal complex 398 (CC398) isolates cluster into two distinct phylogenetic clades based on single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) revealing a basal human clade and a more derived livestock clade. The scn and tet(M) genes are strongly associated with the human and the livestock clade, respectively, due to loss and acquisition of mobile genetic elements. We present canonical single-nucleotide polymorphism (canSNP) assays that differentiate the two major host-associated S. aureus CC398 clades and a duplex PCR assay for detection of scn and tet(M). The canSNP assays correctly placed 88 S. aureus CC398 isolates from a reference collection into the human and livestock clades and the duplex PCR assay correctly identified scn and tet(M). The assays were successfully applied to a geographically diverse collection of 272 human S. aureus CC398 isolates. The simple assays described here generate signals comparable to a whole-genome phylogeny for major clade assignment and are easily integrated into S. aureus CC398 surveillance programs and epidemiological studies.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0079645
PMCID: PMC3828327  PMID: 24244535
9.  Genome Sequence of Staphylococcus aureus Strain CA-347, a USA600 Methicillin-Resistant Isolate 
Genome Announcements  2013;1(4):e00517-13.
The Staphylococcus aureus clonal lineage CC45 is a predominant colonizer of healthy individuals in northern Europe and constitutes a highly basal cluster of the S. aureus population. Here, we report the complete genome sequence of S. aureus strain CA-347 (NRS648), a representative of the methicillin-resistant USA600 clone predominantly found in the United States.
doi:10.1128/genomeA.00517-13
PMCID: PMC3735070  PMID: 23887918
10.  Genome Analysis of Staphylococcus aureus ST291, a Double Locus Variant of ST398, Reveals a Distinct Genetic Lineage 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e63008.
Staphylococcus aureus ST291 has been reported as a homologue recombinant double locus variant of the livestock associated S. aureus ST398. However, whole genome sequencing show that ST291 is a unique genetic lineage with highly variable content within its accessory genome compared to both human and livestock associated genome sequenced CC398s.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0063008
PMCID: PMC3660392  PMID: 23704886
12.  Genome Sequence of Staphylococcus aureus Strain 11819-97, an ST80-IV European Community-Acquired Methicillin-Resistant Isolate 
Journal of Bacteriology  2012;194(6):1625-1626.
The European methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) clone ST80-IV has historically dominated community-associated infections in major parts of Europe and is a lineage strongly linked to skin and soft tissue infections. Here, we report the genome sequence of an ST80-IV representative, 11819-97, isolated from a skin infection in Denmark in 1997.
doi:10.1128/JB.06653-11
PMCID: PMC3294860  PMID: 22374956
13.  Influence of Host Genetics and Environment on Nasal Carriage of Staphylococcus aureus in Danish Middle-Aged and Elderly Twins 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2012;206(8):1178-1184.
Background. Nasal carriage is a major risk factor for Staphylococcus aureus infection. Approximately, one-quarter of adults carry S. aureus. However, the role of host genetics on S. aureus nasal carriage is unknown.
Methods. Nasal swabs were obtained from a national cohort of middle-aged and elderly Danish twins. Subjects colonized with S. aureus were identified by growth on selective plates and spa typing. A second sample was obtained from twins initially concordant for carriage. Twins found to again be colonized with S. aureus were defined as persistent carriers.
Results. The prevalence of S. aureus carriage among 617 twin pairs (monozygotic/dizygotic pairs: 112/505) was 26.3% (95% confidence interval [CI], 24.0%–28.9%). The concordance rate for carriage did not differ significantly between pairs of monozygotic (37.5%; 95% CI, 22.3%–53.8%) twins and same sex (24.2%; 95% CI, 15.4%–34.5%), and opposite sex (21.4%; 95% CI, 12.0%–33.4%) dizygotic twins. Despite shared childhoods, only 1 of 617 pairs was concordant with respect to lineage. Although heritability increased for S. aureus and lineage persistency, no significant heritability was detected.
Conclusion. In this study, host genetic factors exhibited only a modest influence on the S. aureus carrier state of middle-aged and elderly individuals.
doi:10.1093/infdis/jis491
PMCID: PMC3448969  PMID: 22872733
14.  Prevalence of infective endocarditis in patients with Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia: the value of screening with echocardiography 
Aims
Staphylococcus aureus infective endocarditis (IE) is a critical medical condition associated with a high morbidity and mortality. In the present study, we prospectively evaluated the importance of screening with echocardiography in an unselected S. aureus bacteraemia (SAB) population.
Methods and results
From 1 January 2009 to 31 August 2010, a total of 244 patients with SAB at six Danish hospitals underwent screening echocardiography. The inclusion rate was 73% of all eligible patients (n= 336), and 53 of the 244 included patients (22%; 95% CI: 17–27%) were diagnosed with definite IE. In patients with native heart valves the prevalence was 19% (95% CI: 14–25%) compared with 38% (95% CI: 20–55%) in patients with prosthetic heart valves and/or cardiac rhythm management devices (P= 0.02). No difference was found between Main Regional Hospitals and Tertiary Cardiac Hospitals, 20 vs. 23%, respectively (NS). The prevalence of IE in high-risk patients with one or more predisposing condition or clinical evidence of IE were significantly higher compared with low-risk patients with no additional risk factors (38 vs. 5%; P < 0.001). IE was associated with a higher 6 months mortality, 14(26%) vs. 28(15%) in SAB patients without IE, respectively (P < 0.05).
Conclusion
SAB patients carry a high risk for development of IE, which is associated with a worse prognosis compared with uncomplicated SAB. The presenting symptoms and clinical findings associated with IE are often non-specific and echocardiography should always be considered as part of the initial evaluation of SAB patients.
doi:10.1093/ejechocard/jer023
PMCID: PMC3117467  PMID: 21685200
Infective endocarditis; Echocardiography; Staphylococcus aureus; Screening
15.  A Novel Myosin Essential Light Chain Mutation Causes Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy with Late Onset and Low Expressivity 
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is caused by mutations in genes encoding sarcomere proteins. Mutations in MYL3, encoding the essential light chain of myosin, are rare and have been associated with sudden death. Both recessive and dominant patterns of inheritance have been suggested. We studied a large family with a 38-year-old asymptomatic HCM-affected male referred because of a murmur. The patient had HCM with left ventricular hypertrophy (max WT 21 mm), a resting left ventricular outflow gradient of 36 mm Hg, and left atrial dilation (54 mm). Genotyping revealed heterozygosity for a novel missense mutation, p.V79I, in MYL3. The mutation was not found in 300 controls, and the patient had no mutations in 10 sarcomere genes. Cascade screening revealed a further nine heterozygote mutation carriers, three of whom had ECG and/or echocardiographic abnormalities but did not fulfil diagnostic criteria for HCM. The penetrance, if we consider this borderline HCM the phenotype of the p.V79I mutation, was 40%, but the mean age of the nonpenetrant mutation carriers is 15, while the mean age of the penetrant mutation carriers is 47. The mutation affects a conserved valine replacing it with a larger isoleucine residue in the region of contact between the light chain and the myosin lever arm. In conclusion, MYL3 mutations can present with low expressivity and late onset.
doi:10.1155/2012/685108
PMCID: PMC3432877  PMID: 22957257
16.  Genetic Variability in Beta-Defensins Is Not Associated with Susceptibility to Staphylococcus aureus Bacteremia 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e32315.
Introduction
Human beta-defensins are key components of human innate immunity to a variety of pathogens, including Staphylococcus aureus. The aim of the present study was to investigate a potential association between gene variations in DEFB1 and DEFB103/DEFB4 and the development of S. aureus bacteremia (SAB) employing a case-control design.
Methods
Cases were unique patients with documented SAB, identified with the National S. aureus Bacteremia Register, a comprehensive dataset of all episodes of community associated-SABs (CA-SAB) occurring in children (≤20 yrs) in Denmark from 1990 to 2006. Controls were age-matched healthy individuals with no history of SAB. DNA obtained from cases and controls using the Danish Newborn Screening Biobank were genotyped for functional polymorphisms of DEFB1 by Sanger sequencing and copy number variation of the DEFB103 and DEFB4 genes using Pyrosequencing-based Paralogue Ratio Test (P-PRT).
Results
193 ethnic Danish SAB cases with 382 age-matched controls were used for this study. S. aureus isolates represented a variety of bacterial (i.e., different spa types) types similar to SAB isolates in general. DEFB1 minor allele frequencies of rs11362 (cases vs. controls 0.47/0.44), rs1800972 (0.21/0.24), and rs1799946 (0.32/0.33) were not significantly different in cases compared with controls. Also, DEFB4/DEFB103 gene copy numbers (means 4.83/4.92) were not significantly different in cases compared with controls.
Conclusions
Using a large, unique cohort of pediatric CA-SAB, we found no significant association between DEFB1 genetic variation or DEFB4/DEFB103 gene copy number and susceptibility for SAB.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0032315
PMCID: PMC3285211  PMID: 22384213
17.  Staphylococcus aureus CC398: Host Adaptation and Emergence of Methicillin Resistance in Livestock 
mBio  2012;3(1):e00305-11.
ABSTRACT
Since its discovery in the early 2000s, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) clonal complex 398 (CC398) has become a rapidly emerging cause of human infections, most often associated with livestock exposure. We applied whole-genome sequence typing to characterize a diverse collection of CC398 isolates (n = 89), including MRSA and methicillin-susceptible S. aureus (MSSA) from animals and humans spanning 19 countries and four continents. We identified 4,238 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) among the 89 core genomes. Minimal homoplasy (consistency index = 0.9591) was detected among parsimony-informative SNPs, allowing for the generation of a highly accurate phylogenetic reconstruction of the CC398 clonal lineage. Phylogenetic analyses revealed that MSSA from humans formed the most ancestral clades. The most derived lineages were composed predominantly of livestock-associated MRSA possessing three different staphylococcal cassette chromosome mec element (SCCmec) types (IV, V, and VII-like) including nine subtypes. The human-associated isolates from the basal clades carried phages encoding human innate immune modulators that were largely missing among the livestock-associated isolates. Our results strongly suggest that livestock-associated MRSA CC398 originated in humans as MSSA. The lineage appears to have undergone a rapid radiation in conjunction with the jump from humans to livestock, where it subsequently acquired tetracycline and methicillin resistance. Further analyses are required to estimate the number of independent genetic events leading to the methicillin-resistant sublineages, but the diversity of SCCmec subtypes is suggestive of strong and diverse antimicrobial selection associated with food animal production.
IMPORTANCE
Modern food animal production is characterized by densely concentrated animals and routine antibiotic use, which may facilitate the emergence of novel antibiotic-resistant zoonotic pathogens. Our findings strongly support the idea that livestock-associated MRSA CC398 originated as MSSA in humans. The jump of CC398 from humans to livestock was accompanied by the loss of phage-carried human virulence genes, which likely attenuated its zoonotic potential, but it was also accompanied by the acquisition of tetracycline and methicillin resistance. Our findings exemplify a bidirectional zoonotic exchange and underscore the potential public health risks of widespread antibiotic use in food animal production.
doi:10.1128/mBio.00305-11
PMCID: PMC3280451  PMID: 22354957
18.  The KCNE genes in hypertrophic cardiomyopathy: a candidate gene study 
Background
The gene family KCNE1-5, which encode modulating β-subunits of several repolarising K+-ion channels, has been associated with genetic cardiac diseases such as long QT syndrome, atrial fibrillation and Brugada syndrome. The minK peptide, encoded by KCNE1, is attached to the Z-disc of the sarcomere as well as the T-tubules of the sarcolemma. It has been suggested that minK forms part of an "electro-mechanical feed-back" which links cardiomyocyte stretching to changes in ion channel function. We examined whether mutations in KCNE genes were associated with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), a genetic disease associated with an improper hypertrophic response.
Results
The coding regions of KCNE1, KCNE2, KCNE3, KCNE4, and KCNE5 were examined, by direct DNA sequencing, in a cohort of 93 unrelated HCM probands and 188 blood donor controls.
Fifteen genetic variants, four previously unknown, were identified in the HCM probands. Eight variants were non-synonymous and one was located in the 3'UTR-region of KCNE4. No disease-causing mutations were found and no significant difference in the frequency of genetic variants was found between HCM probands and controls. Two variants of likely functional significance were found in controls only.
Conclusions
Mutations in KCNE genes are not a common cause of HCM and polymorphisms in these genes do not seem to be associated with a propensity to develop arrhythmia
doi:10.1186/1477-5751-10-12
PMCID: PMC3204304  PMID: 21967835
19.  Determination of Beta-Defensin Genomic Copy Number in Different Populations: A Comparison of Three Methods 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(2):e16768.
Background
There have been conflicting reports in the literature on association of gene copy number with disease, including CCL3L1 and HIV susceptibility, and β-defensins and Crohn's disease. Quantification of precise gene copy numbers is important in order to define any association of gene copy number with disease. At present, real-time quantitative PCR (QPCR) is the most commonly used method to determine gene copy number, however the Paralogue Ratio Test (PRT) is being used in more and more laboratories.
Findings
In this study we compare a Pyrosequencing-based Paralogue Ratio Test (PPRT) for determining beta-defensin gene copy number with two currently used methods for gene copy number determination, QPCR and triplex PRT by typing five different cohorts (UK, Danish, Portuguese, Ghanaian and Czech) of DNA from a total of 576 healthy individuals. We found a systematic measurement bias between DNA cohorts revealed by QPCR, but not by the PRT-based methods. Using PRT, copy number ranged from 2 to 9 copies, with a modal copy number of 4 in all populations.
Conclusions
QPCR is very sensitive to quality of the template DNA, generating systematic biases that could produce false-positive or negative disease associations. Both triplex PRT and PPRT do not show this systematic bias, and type copy number within the correct range, although triplex PRT appears to be a more precise and accurate method to type beta-defensin copy number.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0016768
PMCID: PMC3043064  PMID: 21364933
20.  Echocardiographic Strain Imaging to Assess Early and Late Consequences of Sarcomere Mutations in Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy 
Background
Genetic testing identifies sarcomere mutation carriers (G+) before clinical diagnosis of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), allowing characterization of initial disease manifestations. Prior studies demonstrated that impaired relaxation develops before left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH). The precise impact of sarcomere mutations on systolic function in early and late disease is unclear.
Methods and Results
Comprehensive echocardiography with strain imaging was performed on 146 genotyped individuals with mutations in 5 sarcomere genes. Contractile parameters were compared in 68 preclinical (G+/LVH−), 40 overt (G+/LVH+) HCM subjects, and 38 mutation (−) normal control relatives. All subjects had normal LV ejection fraction (EF). In preclinical HCM, global and regional peak systolic strain (εsys) and longitudinal systolic strain rate (SSR) were not significantly different from controls, but early diastolic mitral annular velocity (Ea) was reduced by 13%. In overt HCM, there was a significant 27% and 14% decrease in global longitudinal εsys and SSR respectively, compared with both preclinical HCM and controls (p<0.013 for all comparisons), and a 33% reduction in Ea.
Conclusions
Sarcomere mutations have disparate initial effects on diastolic and systolic function. Preclinical HCM is characterized by impaired relaxation but preserved systolic strain. In contrast, both diastolic and longitudinal systolic abnormalities are present in overt disease, despite normal EF. We propose that diastolic dysfunction is an early consequence of sarcomere mutations, whereas systolic dysfunction results from mutations combined with subsequent pathologic remodeling. Identifying mechanistic pathways triggered by these mutations may begin to reshape the clinical paradigm for treatment, based on early diagnosis and disease prevention.
doi:10.1161/CIRCGENETICS.109.862128
PMCID: PMC2773504  PMID: 20031602
Genetics; Cardiomyopathy; Contractility; Hypertrophy; Echocardiography
21.  The role of sarcomere gene mutations in patients with idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy 
European Journal of Human Genetics  2009;17(10):1241-1249.
We investigated a Danish cohort of 31 unrelated patients with idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy (IDC), to assess the role that mutations in sarcomere protein genes play in IDC. Patients were genetically screened by capillary electrophoresis single strand conformation polymorphism and subsequently by bidirectional DNA sequencing of conformers in the coding regions of MYH7, MYBPC3, TPM1, ACTC, MYL2, MYL3, TNNT2, CSRP3 and TNNI3. Eight probands carried disease-associated genetic variants (26%). In MYH7, three novel mutations were found; in MYBPC3, one novel variant and two known mutations were found; and in TNNT2, a known mutation was found. One proband was double heterozygous. We find evidence of phenotypic plasticity: three mutations described earlier as HCM causing were found in four cases of IDC, with no history of a hypertrophic phase. Furthermore, one pedigree presented with several cases of classic DCM as well as one case with left ventricular non-compaction. Disease-causing sarcomere gene mutations were found in about one-quarter of IDC patients, and seem to play an important role in the causation of the disease. The genetics is as complex as seen in HCM. Thus, our data suggest that a genetic work-up should include screening of the most prominent sarcomere genes even in the absence of a family history of the disease.
doi:10.1038/ejhg.2009.34
PMCID: PMC2986634  PMID: 19293840
cardiomyopathies; dilated; heart failure; sarcomere gene mutations; DNA mutational analysis
22.  PPARγ Pro12Ala polymorphism and risk of acute coronary syndrome in a prospective study of Danes 
BMC Medical Genetics  2009;10:52.
Background
Acute coronary syndrome (ACS) is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in the western world. Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARγ) plays a key role in the regulation of the energy balance, adipocyte differentiation and lipid biosynthesis. The aim was to investigate if the polymorphism PPARγ2 Pro12Ala, which encodes a less efficient transcription factor, was associated with risk of acute coronary disease and if there were interactions between this polymorphism and factors that modify PPARγ activity, such as alcohol intake, smoking, and use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicine.
Methods
A case-cohort study including 1031 ACS cases and a sub-cohort of 1703 persons was nested within the population-based prospective study Diet, Cancer and Health of 57,053 individuals.
Results
Homozygous male variant allele carriers of PPARγ2 Pro12Ala were at higher risk of ACS (HR = 2.12, 95% CI: 1.00–4.48) than homozygous carriers of the Pro-allele. Among men, there was a statistically significant interaction between genotypes and alcohol intake such that homozygous variant allele carriers with a low alcohol intake were at higher risk of ACS (HR = 25.3, CI: 16.5–38.7) compared to homozygous common allele carriers (p for interaction < 0.0001). Overall, the association was only observed among homozygous variant allele carriers. Thus, all the observed associations were obtained in subgroups including small numbers of cases. It is therefore possible that the observed associations were due to chance.
Conclusion
In the present study, there were no consistent associations between PPARγ Pro12Ala and risk of ACS, and no consistent interaction with alcohol, BMI, NSAID or smoking in relation to ACS.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-10-52
PMCID: PMC2698834  PMID: 19500413
23.  Multiple Transcriptional Control of the Lactococcus lactis trp Operon 
Journal of Bacteriology  1998;180(12):3174-3180.
The Lactococcus lactis trpEGDCFBA operon is preceded by a noncoding leader region. Transcriptional studies of the trp operon revealed three transcripts with respective sizes of 8 kb (encompassing the entire operon), 290 bases, and 160 bases (corresponding to parts of the leader region). These transcripts most likely result from initiation at the unique Ptrp promoter, transcription termination at either T1 (upstream of the trp operon) or T2 (downstream of the trp operon), and/or processing. Three parameters were shown to differentially affect the amount of these transcripts: (i) following tryptophan depletion, the amount of the 8-kb transcript increases 300- to 500-fold; (ii) depletion in any amino acid increased transcription initiation about fourfold; and (iii) upon entry into stationary phase the amount of the 8-kb transcript decreases abruptly. The tryptophan-dependent transcription control is exerted through transcription antitermination.
PMCID: PMC107819  PMID: 9620968

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