Global spread and genetic monomorphism are hallmarks of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the agent of human tuberculosis. In contrast, Mycobacterium canettii, and related tubercle bacilli that also cause human tuberculosis and exhibit unusual smooth colony morphology, are restricted to East-Africa. Here, we sequenced and analyzed the genomes of five representative strains of smooth tubercle bacilli (STB) using Sanger (4-5x coverage), 454/Roche (13-18x coverage) and/or Illumina DNA sequencing (45-105x coverage). We show that STB are highly recombinogenic and evolutionary early-branching, with larger genome sizes, 25-fold more SNPs, fewer molecular scars and distinct CRISPR-Cas systems relative to M. tuberculosis. Despite the differences, all tuberculosis-causing mycobacteria share a highly conserved core genome. Mouse-infection experiments revealed that STB are less persistent and virulent than M. tuberculosis. We conclude that M. tuberculosis emerged from an ancestral, STB-like pool of mycobacteria by gain of persistence and virulence mechanisms and we provide genome-wide insights into the molecular events involved.
Next-generation sequencing (NGS) of bacterial genomes has recently become more accessible and is now available to the routine diagnostic microbiology laboratory. However, questions remain regarding its feasibility, particularly with respect to data analysis in nonspecialist centers. To test the applicability of NGS to outbreak investigations, Ion Torrent sequencing was used to investigate a putative multidrug-resistant Escherichia coli outbreak in the neonatal unit of the Mercy Hospital for Women, Melbourne, Australia. Four suspected outbreak strains and a comparator strain were sequenced. Genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) analysis demonstrated that the four neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) strains were identical and easily differentiated from the comparator strain. Genome sequence data also determined that the NICU strains belonged to multilocus sequence type 131 and carried the blaCTX-M-15 extended-spectrum beta-lactamase. Comparison of the outbreak strains to all publicly available complete E. coli genome sequences showed that they clustered with neonatal meningitis and uropathogenic isolates. The turnaround time from a positive culture to the completion of sequencing (prior to data analysis) was 5 days, and the cost was approximately $300 per strain (for the reagents only). The main obstacles to a mainstream adoption of NGS technologies in diagnostic microbiology laboratories are currently cost (although this is decreasing), a paucity of user-friendly and clinically focused bioinformatics platforms, and a lack of genomics expertise outside the research environment. Despite these hurdles, NGS technologies provide unparalleled high-resolution genotyping in a short time frame and are likely to be widely implemented in the field of diagnostic microbiology in the next few years, particularly for epidemiological investigations (replacing current typing methods) and the characterization of resistance determinants. Clinical microbiologists need to familiarize themselves with these technologies and their applications.
In this report we have explored the genomic and microbiological basis for a sustained increase in bloodstream infections at a major Australian hospital caused by Enterococcus faecium multi-locus sequence type (ST) 203, an outbreak strain that has largely replaced a predecessor ST17 sequence type.
To establish a ST203 reference sequence we fully assembled and annotated the genome of Aus0085, a 2009 vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium (VREfm) bloodstream isolate, and the first example of a completed ST203 genome. Aus0085 has a 3.2 Mb genome, comprising a 2.9 Mb circular chromosome and six circular plasmids (2 kb–130 kb). Twelve percent of the 3222 coding sequences (CDS) in Aus0085 are not present in ST17 E. faecium Aus0004 and ST18 E. faecium TX16. Extending this comparison to an additional 12 ST17 and 14 ST203 E. faecium hospital isolate genomes revealed only six genomic regions spanning 41 kb that were present in all ST203 and absent from all ST17 genomes. The 40 CDS have predicted functions that include ion transport, riboflavin metabolism and two phosphotransferase systems. Comparison of the vancomycin resistance-conferring Tn1549 transposon between Aus0004 and Aus0085 revealed differences in transposon length and insertion site, and van locus sequence variation that correlated with a higher vancomycin MIC in Aus0085. Additional phenotype comparisons between ST17 and ST203 isolates showed that while there were no differences in biofilm-formation and killing of Galleria mellonella, ST203 isolates grew significantly faster and out-competed ST17 isolates in growth assays.
Here we have fully assembled and annotated the first ST203 genome, and then characterized the genomic differences between ST17 and ST203 E. faecium. We also show that ST203 E. faecium are faster growing and can out-compete ST17 E. faecium. While a causal genetic basis for these phenotype differences is not provided here, this study revealed conserved genetic differences between the two clones, differences that can now be tested to explain the molecular basis for the success and emergence of ST203 E. faecium.
Vancomycin resistant enterococci; VRE; Sequence type 203; Antibiotics; Whole genome; Transposon; Nosocomial
Nosocomial outbreaks of vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium (VREfm) are thought to occur by transmission of VREfm between patients, predicting that infection control interventions will limit cross-transmission. Despite implementation of such strategies, the incidence of VREfm infections continues to rise. We aimed to use genomics to better understand the epidemiology of E. faecium within a large hospital and investigate the reasons for failure of infection control strategies. Whole-genome sequencing was performed on 61 E. faecium (36 VREfm) isolates, predominately from blood cultures collected at a single hospital between 1998 and 2009, and on five vanB-positive anaerobic commensal bacteria isolated from human feces. Phylogenomic analysis and precise mapping of the vanB gene, which contains the Tn1549 transposon, showed that at least 18 of the 36 VREfm isolates had acquired the transposon via independent insertion events, indicating de novo generation of VREfm rather than cross-transmission. Furthermore, Tn1549 sequences found in 15 of the 36 VREfm isolates were the same as the Tn1549 sequence from one of the gut anaerobes. National and international comparator E. faecium isolates were phylogenetically interspersed with isolates from our hospital, suggesting that our findings might be globally representative. These data demonstrate that VREfm generation within a patient is common, presumably occurring in the human bowel during antibiotic therapy, and help explain our inability to reduce VREfm infections. A recommendation from our findings is that infection control practices should include screening patients for specific hospital clones of vancomycin-susceptible E. faecium rather than just VREfm.
Enterococcus faecium is an increasingly important human pathogen causing predominantly antibiotic-resistant infections in hospitalized patients. Large amounts of health care funding are spent trying to control antibiotic-resistant bacteria in hospitals globally, yet in many institutions around the world, vancomycin-resistant E. faecium (VREfm) infections continue to rise. The new findings from this study help explain the failures of our current approaches to controlling vanB VREfm in health care institutions. Given the importance of this bacterium as a cause of hospital-acquired infections and the difficulties faced by infection control units in trying to prevent colonization in their institutions, the novel findings from this study provide evidence that a new approach to controlling VREfm in hospitals is required. In particular, more attention should be given to understanding the epidemiology of hospital-adapted vancomycin-susceptible E. faecium, and patients at higher risk for de novo generation of VREfm need to be identified and optimally managed.
In 2004, a previously undiscovered mycobacterium resembling Mycobacterium ulcerans (the agent of Buruli ulcer) was reported in an outbreak of a lethal mycobacteriosis in a laboratory colony of the African clawed frog Xenopus tropicalis. This mycobacterium makes mycolactone and is one of several strains of M. ulcerans-like mycolactone-producing mycobacteria recovered from ectotherms around the world. Here, we describe the complete 6,399,543-bp genome of this frog pathogen (previously unofficially named “Mycobacterium liflandii”), and we show that it has undergone an intermediate degree of reductive evolution between the M. ulcerans Agy99 strain and the fish pathogen Mycobacterium marinum M strain. Like M. ulcerans Agy99, it has the pMUM mycolactone plasmid, over 200 chromosomal copies of the insertion sequence IS2404, and a high proportion of pseudogenes. However, M. liflandii has a larger genome that is closer in length, sequence, and architecture to M. marinum M than to M. ulcerans Agy99, suggesting that the M. ulcerans Agy99 strain has undergone accelerated evolution. Scrutiny of the genes specifically lost suggests that M. liflandii is a tryptophan, tyrosine, and phenylalanine auxotroph. A once-extensive M. marinum-like secondary metabolome has also been diminished through reductive evolution. Our analysis shows that M. liflandii, like M. ulcerans Agy99, has the characteristics of a niche-adapted mycobacterium but also has several distinctive features in important metabolic pathways that suggest that it is responding to different environmental pressures, supporting earlier proposals that it could be considered an M. ulcerans ecotype, hence the name M. ulcerans ecovar Liflandii.
Colibacillosis, caused by avian pathogenic Escherichia coli (APEC), is a significant disease, causing extensive animal and financial losses globally. Because of the significance of this disease, more knowledge is needed regarding APEC's mechanisms of virulence. Here, we present the fully closed genome sequence of a typical avian pathogenic E. coli strain belonging to the serogroup O78.
We compared exemplar strains from two hypervirulent clonal complexes, strain NMB-CDC from ST-8/11 cc and strain MC58 from ST-32/269 cc, in host cell attachment and invasion. Strain NMB-CDC attached to and invaded host cells at a significantly greater frequency than strain MC58. Type IV pili retained the primary role for initial attachment to host cells for both isolates regardless of pilin class and glycosylation pattern. In strain MC58, the serogroup B capsule was the major inhibitory determinant affecting both bacterial attachment to and invasion of host cells. Removal of terminal sialylation of lipooligosaccharide (LOS) in the presence of capsule did not influence rates of attachment or invasion for strain MC58. However, removal of either serogroup B capsule or LOS sialylation in strain NMB-CDC increased bacterial attachment to host cells to the same extent. Although the level of inhibition of attachment by capsule was different between these strains, the regulation of the capsule synthesis locus by the two-component response regulator MisR, and the level of surface capsule determined by flow cytometry were not significantly different. However, the diplococci of strain NMB-CDC were shown to have a 1.89-fold greater surface area than strain MC58 by flow cytometry. It was proposed that the increase in surface area without changing the amount of anchored glycolipid capsule in the outer membrane would result in a sparser capsule and increase surface hydrophobicity. Strain NMB-CDC was shown to be more hydrophobic than strain MC58 using hydrophobicity interaction chromatography and microbial adhesion-to-solvents assays. In conclusion, improved levels of adherence of strain NMB-CDC to cell lines was associated with increased bacterial cell surface and surface hydrophobicity. This study shows that there is diversity in bacterial cell surface area and surface hydrophobicity within N. meningitidis which influence steps in meningococcal pathogenesis.
Peritonitis is the major disease problem of laying hens in commercial table egg and parent stock operations. Despite its importance, the etiology and pathogenesis of this disease have not been completely clarified. Although avian pathogenic Escherichia coli (APEC) isolates have been incriminated as the causative agent of laying hen peritonitis, Gallibacterium anatis are frequently isolated from peritonitis lesions. Despite recent studies suggesting a role for G. anatis in the pathogenesis of peritonitis, little is known about the organism’s virulence mechanisms, genomic composition and population dynamics. Here, we compared the genome sequences of three G. anatis isolates in an effort to understand its virulence mechanisms and identify novel antigenic traits. A multilocus sequence typing method was also established for G. anatis and used to characterize the genotypic relatedness of 71 isolates from commercial laying hens in Iowa and 18 international reference isolates. Genomic comparisons suggest that G. anatis is a highly diverse bacterial species, with some strains possessing previously described and potential virulence factors, but with a core genome containing several antigenic candidates. Multilocus sequence typing effectively distinguished 82 sequence types and several clonal complexes of G. anatis, and some clones seemed to predominate among G. anatis populations from commercial layers in Iowa. Biofilm formation and resistance to antimicrobial agents was also observed in several clades. Overall, the genomic diversity of G. anatis suggests that multiple lineages exist with differing pathogenic potential towards birds.
Vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) are one of the leading causes of nosocomial infections in health care facilities around the globe. In particular, infections caused by vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium are becoming increasingly common. Comparative and functional genomic studies of E. faecium isolates have so far been limited owing to the lack of a fully assembled E. faecium genome sequence. Here we address this issue and report the complete 3.0-Mb genome sequence of the multilocus sequence type 17 vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium strain Aus0004, isolated from the bloodstream of a patient in Melbourne, Australia, in 1998. The genome comprises a 2.9-Mb circular chromosome and three circular plasmids. The chromosome harbors putative E. faecium virulence factors such as enterococcal surface protein, hemolysin, and collagen-binding adhesin. Aus0004 has a very large accessory genome (38%) that includes three prophage and two genomic islands absent among 22 other E. faecium genomes. One of the prophage was present as inverted 50-kb repeats that appear to have facilitated a 683-kb chromosomal inversion across the replication terminus, resulting in a striking replichore imbalance. Other distinctive features include 76 insertion sequence elements and a single chromosomal copy of Tn1549 containing the vanB vancomycin resistance element. A complete E. faecium genome will be a useful resource to assist our understanding of this emerging nosocomial pathogen.
Understanding multicellular fungal structures is important for designing better strategies against human fungal pathogens. For example, the ability to form multicellular biofilms is a key virulence property of the yeast Candida albicans. C. albicans biofilms form on indwelling medical devices and are drug resistant, causing serious infections in hospital settings. Multicellular fungal communities are heterogeneous, consisting of cells experiencing different environments. Heterogeneity is likely important for the phenotypic characteristics of communities, yet it is poorly understood. Here we used colonies of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a model fungal multicellular structure. We fractionated the outside colony layers from the cells in the center by FACS, using a Cit1-GFP marker expressed exclusively on the outside. Transcriptomics analysis of the two subpopulations revealed that the outside colony layers are actively growing by fermentative metabolism, while the cells residing on the inside are in a resting state and experience changes to mitochondrial activity. Our data shows several parallels with C. albicans biofilms providing insight into the contributions of heterogeneity to biofilm phenotypes. Hallmarks of C. albicans biofilms – the expression of ribosome and translation functions and activation of glycolysis and ergosterol biosynthesis occur on the outside of colonies, while expression of genes associates with sulfur assimilation is observed in the colony center. Cell wall restructuring occurs in biofilms, and cell wall functions are enriched in both fractions: the outside cells display enrichment of cell wall biosynthesis enzymes and cell wall proteins, while the inside cells express cell wall degrading enzymes. Our study also suggests that noncoding transcription and posttranscriptional mRNA regulation play important roles during growth of yeast in colonies, setting the scene for investigating these pathways in the development of multicellular fungal communities.
The genomic island encoding the locus of enterocyte effacement (LEE) is an important virulence factor of the human pathogenic Escherichia coli. LEE typically encodes a type III secretion system (T3SS) and secreted effectors capable of forming attaching and effacing lesions. Although prominent in the pathogenic E. coli such as serotype O157:H7, LEE has also been detected in Citrobacter rodentium, E. albertii, and although not confirmed, it is likely to also be in Shigella boydii. Previous phylogenetic analysis of LEE indicated the genomic island was evolving through stepwise acquisition of various components. This study describes a new LEE region from two strains of Salmonella enterica subspecies salamae serovar Sofia along with a phylogenetic analysis of LEE that provides new insights into the likely evolution of this genomic island. The Salmonella LEE contains 36 of the 41 genes typically observed in LEE within a genomic island of 49, 371 bp that encodes a total of 54 genes. A phylogenetic analysis was performed on the entire T3SS and four T3SS genes (escF, escJ, escN, and escV) to elucidate the genealogy of LEE. Phylogenetic analysis inferred that the previously known LEE islands are members of a single lineage distinct from the new Salmonella LEE lineage. The previously known lineage of LEE diverged between islands found in Citrobacter and those in Escherichia and Shigella. Although recombination and horizontal gene transfer are important factors in the genealogy of most genomic islands, the phylogeny of the T3SS of LEE can be interpreted with a bifurcating tree. It seems likely that the LEE island entered the Enterobacteriaceae through horizontal gene transfer as a single unit, rather than as separate subsections, which was then subjected to the forces of both mutational change and recombination.
We recently demonstrated that colistin resistance in Acinetobacter baumannii can result from mutational inactivation of genes essential for lipid A biosynthesis (Moffatt JH, et al., Antimicrob. Agents Chemother. 54:4971–4977). Consequently, strains harboring these mutations are unable to produce the major Gram-negative bacterial surface component, lipopolysaccharide (LPS). To understand how A. baumannii compensates for the lack of LPS, we compared the transcriptional profile of the A. baumannii type strain ATCC 19606 to that of an isogenic, LPS-deficient, lpxA mutant strain. The analysis of the expression profiles indicated that the LPS-deficient strain showed increased expression of many genes involved in cell envelope and membrane biogenesis. In particular, upregulated genes included those involved in the Lol lipoprotein transport system and the Mla-retrograde phospholipid transport system. In addition, genes involved in the synthesis and transport of poly-β-1,6-N-acetylglucosamine (PNAG) also were upregulated, and a corresponding increase in PNAG production was observed. The LPS-deficient strain also exhibited the reduced expression of genes predicted to encode the fimbrial subunit FimA and a type VI secretion system (T6SS). The reduced expression of genes involved in T6SS correlated with the detection of the T6SS-effector protein AssC in culture supernatants of the A. baumannii wild-type strain but not in the LPS-deficient strain. Taken together, these data show that, in response to total LPS loss, A. baumannii alters the expression of critical transport and biosynthesis systems associated with modulating the composition and structure of the bacterial surface.
Porcine enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) continues to result in major morbidity and mortality in the swine industry via postweaning diarrhea. The key virulence factors of ETEC strains, their serotypes, and their fimbrial components have been well studied. However, most studies to date have focused on plasmid-encoded traits related to colonization and toxin production, and the chromosomal backgrounds of these strains have been largely understudied. Here, we generated the genomic sequences of K88-positive and F18-positive porcine ETEC strains and examined the phylogenetic distribution of clinical porcine ETEC strains and their plasmid-associated genetic content. The genomes of porcine ETEC strains UMNK88 and UMNF18 were both found to contain remarkable plasmid complements containing known virulence factors, potential novel virulence factors, and antimicrobial resistance-associated elements. The chromosomes of these strains also possessed several unique genomic islands containing hypothetical genes with similarity to classical virulence factors, although phage-associated genomic islands dominated the accessory genomes of these strains. Phylogenetic analysis of 78 clinical isolates associated with neonatal and porcine diarrhea revealed that a limited subset of porcine ETEC lineages exist that generally contain common toxin and fimbrial profiles, with many of the isolates belonging to the ST10, ST23, and ST169 multilocus sequencing types. These lineages were generally distinct from existing human ETEC database isolates. Overall, most porcine ETEC strains appear to have emerged from a limited subset of E. coli lineages that either have an increased propensity to carry plasmid-encoded virulence factors or have the appropriate ETEC core genome required for virulence.
Mycobacterium ulcerans is an unusual bacterial pathogen with elusive origins. While closely related to the aquatic dwelling M. marinum, M. ulcerans has evolved the ability to produce the immunosuppressive polyketide toxin mycolactone and cause the neglected tropical disease Buruli ulcer. Other mycolactone-producing mycobacteria (MPM) have been identified in fish and frogs and given distinct species designations (M. pseudoshottsii, M. shinshuense, M. liflandii and M. marinum), however the evolution of M. ulcerans and its relationship to other MPM has not been defined. Here we report the comparative analysis of whole genome sequences from 30 MPM and five M. marinum.
A high-resolution phylogeny based on genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) showed that M. ulcerans and all other MPM represent a single clonal group that evolved from a common M. marinum progenitor. The emergence of the MPM was driven by the acquisition of the pMUM plasmid encoding genes for the biosynthesis of mycolactones. This change was accompanied by the loss of at least 185 genes, with a significant overrepresentation of genes associated with cell wall functions. Cell wall associated genes also showed evidence of substantial adaptive selection, suggesting cell wall remodeling has been critical for the survival of MPM. Fine-grain analysis of the MPM complex revealed at least three distinct lineages, one of which comprised a highly clonal group, responsible for Buruli ulcer in Africa and Australia. This indicates relatively recent transfer of M. ulcerans between these continents, which represent the vast majority of the global Buruli ulcer burden. Our data provide SNPs and gene sequences that can differentiate M. ulcerans lineages, suitable for use in the diagnosis and surveillance of Buruli ulcer.
M. ulcerans and all mycolactone-producing mycobacteria are specialized variants of a common Mycobacterium marinum progenitor that have adapted to live in restricted environments. Examination of genes lost or retained and now under selective pressure suggests these environments might be aerobic, and extracellular, where slow growth, production of an immune suppressor, cell wall remodeling, loss or modification of cell wall antigens, and biofilm-forming ability provide a survival advantage. These insights will guide our efforts to find the elusive reservoir(s) of M. ulcerans and to understand transmission of Buruli ulcer.
In this study, we present the full genomic sequences and evolutionary analyses of a serially sampled population of 28 Lactococcus lactis–infecting phage belonging to the 936-like group in Australia. Genome sizes were consistent with previously available genomes ranging in length from 30.9 to 32.1 Kbp and consisted of 55–65 open reading frames. We analyzed their genetic diversity and found that regions of high diversity are correlated with high recombination rate regions (P value = 0.01). Phylogenetic inference showed two major clades that correlate well with known host range. Using the extended Bayesian Skyline model, we found that population size has remained mostly constant through time. Moreover, the dispersion pattern of these genomes is in agreement with human-driven dispersion as suggested by phylogeographic analysis. In addition, selection analysis found evidence of positive selection on codon positions of the Receptor Binding Protein (RBP). Likewise, positively selected sites in the RBP were located within the neck and head region in the crystal structure, both known determinants of host range. Our study demonstrates the utility of phylogenetic methods applied to whole genome data collected from populations of phage for providing insights into applied microbiology.
bacteriophage; selection; phylodynamics; pyrosequencing; population genomics
Gallibacterium anatis is a member of the normal flora of avian hosts and an important causative agent of peritonitis and salpingitis in laying hens. Here we report the availability of the first completed G. anatis genome sequence of strain UMN179, isolated from an Iowa laying hen with peritonitis.
Antimicrobial resistance in Staphylococcus aureus is a major public health threat, compounded by emergence of strains with resistance to vancomycin and daptomycin, both last line antimicrobials. Here we have performed high throughput DNA sequencing and comparative genomics for five clinical pairs of vancomycin-susceptible (VSSA) and vancomycin-intermediate ST239 S. aureus (VISA); each pair isolated before and after vancomycin treatment failure. These comparisons revealed a frequent pattern of mutation among the VISA strains within the essential walKR two-component regulatory locus involved in control of cell wall metabolism. We then conducted bi-directional allelic exchange experiments in our clinical VSSA and VISA strains and showed that single nucleotide substitutions within either walK or walR lead to co-resistance to vancomycin and daptomycin, and caused the typical cell wall thickening observed in resistant clinical isolates. Ion Torrent genome sequencing confirmed no additional regulatory mutations had been introduced into either the walR or walK VISA mutants during the allelic exchange process. However, two potential compensatory mutations were detected within putative transport genes for the walK mutant. The minimal genetic changes in either walK or walR also attenuated virulence, reduced biofilm formation, and led to consistent transcriptional changes that suggest an important role for this regulator in control of central metabolism. This study highlights the dramatic impacts of single mutations that arise during persistent S. aureus infections and demonstrates the role played by walKR to increase drug resistance, control metabolism and alter the virulence potential of this pathogen.
The treatment of serious infections caused by Staphylococcus aureus is complicated by the development of antibiotic resistance, and recently resistance to one of the last available antibiotics to treat resistant S. aureus infections, vancomycin, has also emerged. Here we have shown using whole genome sequencing of 10 S. aureus strains and gene replacement experiments on sequential S. aureus isolates obtained during persistent bloodstream infection, how S. aureus evolved intermediate vancomycin resistance by acquiring mutations in the important regulator WalKR. Mutations in this locus were found to be common in strains of S. aureus demonstrating intermediate vancomycin resistance, and these strains also demonstrated daptomycin non-susceptibility even though this drug had never been used for treatment. Experiments to replace the mutated walK or walR into the parent strain and vice versa confirmed that these mutations were responsible for the antibiotic resistance, but also led to significant changes in virulence, biofilm formation, and regulation of metabolism within the organism. This study highlights the adaptability of S. aureus in the face of antimicrobial treatment.
Community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) USA300 has spread rapidly across North America, and CA-MRSA is also increasing in Australia. However, the dominant Australian CA-MRSA strain, ST93-IV [2B] appears distantly related to USA300 despite strikingly similar clinical and epidemiological profiles. Here, we compared the virulence of a recent Australian ST93 isolate (JKD6159) to other MRSA, including USA300, and found that JKD6159 was the most virulent in a mouse skin infection model. We fully sequenced the genome of JKD6159 and confirmed that JKD6159 is a distinct clone with 7616 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) distinguishing this strain from all other S. aureus genomes. Despite its high virulence there were surprisingly few virulence determinants. However, genes encoding α-hemolysin, Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL) and α-type phenol soluble modulins were present. Genome comparisons revealed 32 additional CDS in JKD6159 but none appeared to encode new virulence factors, suggesting that this clone's enhanced pathogenicity could lie within subtler genome changes, such as SNPs within regulatory genes. To investigate the role of accessory genome elements in CA-MRSA epidemiology, we next sequenced three additional Australian non-ST93 CA-MRSA strains and compared them with JKD6159, 19 completed S. aureus genomes and 59 additional S. aureus genomes for which unassembled genome sequence data was publicly available (82 genomes in total). These comparisons showed that despite its distinctive genotype, JKD6159 and other CA-MRSA clones (including USA300) share a conserved repertoire of three notable accessory elements (SSCmecIV, PVL prophage, and pMW2). This study demonstrates that the genetically distinct ST93 CA-MRSA from Australia is highly virulent. Our comparisons of geographically and genetically diverse CA-MRSA genomes suggest that apparent convergent evolution in CA-MRSA may be better explained by the rapid dissemination of a highly conserved accessory genome from a common source.
The pathogenesis of avian necrotic enteritis involves NetB, a pore-forming toxin produced by virulent avian isolates of Clostridium perfringens type A. To determine the location and mobility of the netB structural gene, we examined a derivative of the tetracycline-resistant necrotic enteritis strain EHE-NE18, in which netB was insertionally inactivated by the chloramphenicol and thiamphenicol resistance gene catP. Both tetracycline and thiamphenicol resistance could be transferred either together or separately to a recipient strain in plate matings. The separate transconjugants could act as donors in subsequent matings, which demonstrated that the tetracycline resistance determinant and the netB gene were present on different conjugative elements. Large plasmids were isolated from the transconjugants and analyzed by high-throughput sequencing. Analysis of the resultant data indicated that there were actually three large conjugative plasmids present in the original strain, each with its own toxin or antibiotic resistance locus. Each plasmid contained a highly conserved 40-kb region that included plasmid replication and transfer regions that were closely related to the 47-kb conjugative tetracycline resistance plasmid pCW3 from C. perfringens. The plasmids were as follows: (i) a conjugative 49-kb tetracycline resistance plasmid that was very similar to pCW3, (ii) a conjugative 82-kb plasmid that contained the netB gene and other potential virulence genes, and (iii) a 70-kb plasmid that carried the cpb2 gene, which encodes a different pore-forming toxin, beta2 toxin.
The anaerobic bacterium Clostridium perfringens can cause an avian gastrointestinal disease known as necrotic enteritis. Disease pathogenesis is not well understood, although the plasmid-encoded pore-forming toxin NetB, is an important virulence factor. In this work, we have shown that the plasmid that carries the netB gene is conjugative and has a 40-kb region that is very similar to replication and transfer regions found within each of the sequenced conjugative plasmids from C. perfringens. We also showed that this strain contained two additional large plasmids that were also conjugative and carried a similar 40-kb region. One of these plasmids encoded beta2 toxin, and the other encoded tetracycline resistance. To our knowledge, this is the first report of a bacterial strain that carries three closely related but different independently conjugative plasmids. These results have significant implications for our understanding of the transmission of virulence and antibiotic resistance genes in pathogenic bacteria.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa, the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in people with cystic fibrosis (CF), adapts for survival in the CF lung through both mutation and gene expression changes. Frequent clonal strains such as the Australian Epidemic Strain-1 (AES-1), have increased ability to establish infection in the CF lung and to superimpose and replace infrequent clonal strains. Little is known about the factors underpinning these properties. Analysis has been hampered by lack of expression array templates containing CF-strain specific genes. We sequenced the genome of an acute infection AES-1 isolate from a CF infant (AES-1R) and constructed a non-redundant micro-array (PANarray) comprising AES-1R and seven other sequenced P. aeruginosa genomes. The unclosed AES-1R genome comprised 6.254Mbp and contained 6957 putative genes, including 338 not found in the other seven genomes. The PANarray contained 12,543 gene probe spots; comprising 12,147 P. aeruginosa gene probes, 326 quality-control probes and 70 probes for non-P. aeruginosa genes, including phage and plant genes. We grew AES-1R and its isogenic pair AES-1M, taken from the same patient 10.5 years later and not eradicated in the intervening period, in our validated artificial sputum medium (ASMDM) and used the PANarray to compare gene expression of both in duplicate. 675 genes were differentially expressed between the isogenic pairs, including upregulation of alginate, biofilm, persistence genes and virulence-related genes such as dihydroorotase, uridylate kinase and cardiolipin synthase, in AES-1M. Non-PAO1 genes upregulated in AES-1M included pathogenesis-related (PAGI-5) genes present in strains PACS2 and PA7, and numerous phage genes. Elucidation of these genes' roles could lead to targeted treatment strategies for chronically infected CF patients.
Clostridium sordellii is an important pathogen of humans and animals, causing a range of diseases, including myonecrosis, sepsis, and shock. Although relatively rare in humans, the incidence of disease is increasing, and it is associated with high mortality rates, approaching 70%. Currently, very little is known about the pathogenesis of C. sordellii infections or disease. Previous work suggested that the lethal large clostridial glucosylating toxin TcsL is the major virulence factor, but a lack of genetic tools has hindered our ability to conclusively assign a role for TcsL or, indeed, any of the other putative virulence factors produced by this organism. In this study, we have developed methods for the introduction of plasmids into C. sordellii using RP4-mediated conjugation from Escherichia coli and have successfully used these techniques to insertionally inactivate the tcsL gene in the reference strain ATCC 9714, using targetron technology. Virulence testing revealed that the production of TcsL is essential for the development of lethal infections by C. sordellii ATCC 9714 and also contributes significantly to edema seen during uterine infection. This study represents the first definitive identification of a virulence factor in C. sordellii and opens the way for in-depth studies of this important human pathogen at the molecular level.
A comparative genomics approach was utilised to compare the genomes of Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP) isolated from early onset paediatric Crohn's disease (CD) patients as well as Johne's diseased animals. Draft genome sequences were produced for MAP isolates derived from four CD patients, one ulcerative colitis (UC) patient, and two non-inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) control individuals using Illumina sequencing, complemented by comparative genome hybridisation (CGH). MAP isolates derived from two bovine and one ovine host were also subjected to whole genome sequencing and CGH. All seven human derived MAP isolates were highly genetically similar and clustered together with one bovine type isolate following phylogenetic analysis. Three other sequenced isolates (including the reference bovine derived isolate K10) were genetically distinct. The human isolates contained two large tandem duplications, the organisations of which were confirmed by PCR. Designated vGI-17 and vGI-18 these duplications spanned 63 and 109 open reading frames, respectively. PCR screening of over 30 additional MAP isolates (3 human derived, 27 animal derived and one environmental isolate) confirmed that vGI-17 and vGI-18 are common across many isolates. Quantitative real-time PCR of vGI-17 demonstrated that the proportion of cells containing the vGI-17 duplication varied between 0.01 to 15% amongst isolates with human isolates containing a higher proportion of vGI-17 compared to most animal isolates. These findings suggest these duplications are transient genomic rearrangements. We hypothesise that the over-representation of vGI-17 in human derived MAP strains may enhance their ability to infect or persist within a human host by increasing genome redundancy and conferring crude regulation of protein expression across biologically important regions.
We report the resequencing and revised annotation of the Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis K10 genome. A total of 90 single-nucleotide errors and a 51-bp indel in the original K10 genome were corrected, and the whole genome annotation was revised. Correction of these sequencing errors resulted in 28 frameshift alterations. The amended genome sequence is accessible via the supplemental section of study SRR060191 in the NCBI Sequence Read Archive and will serve as a valuable reference genome for future studies.
Infections caused by multidrug-resistant (MDR) Gram-negative bacteria represent a major global health problem. Polymyxin antibiotics such as colistin have resurfaced as effective last-resort antimicrobials for use against MDR Gram-negative pathogens, including Acinetobacter baumannii. Here we show that A. baumannii can rapidly develop resistance to polymyxin antibiotics by complete loss of the initial binding target, the lipid A component of lipopolysaccharide (LPS), which has long been considered to be essential for the viability of Gram-negative bacteria. We characterized 13 independent colistin-resistant derivatives of A. baumannii type strain ATCC 19606 and showed that all contained mutations within one of the first three genes of the lipid A biosynthesis pathway: lpxA, lpxC, and lpxD. All of these mutations resulted in the complete loss of LPS production. Furthermore, we showed that loss of LPS occurs in a colistin-resistant clinical isolate of A. baumannii. This is the first report of a spontaneously occurring, lipopolysaccharide-deficient, Gram-negative bacterium.