Bacterial Population Genetics in Infectious Disease

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With minor modifications in the selection of enzymes and "pulsing protocols", PFGE can be applied to any bacterium or yeast. Although direct probing of recognition sequences by rare cutters detects variation in less than 0.

Genetic diversity helps to limit infectious disease -- ScienceDaily

PFGE requires two to four days before results are available and specialized equipment that is more expensive than those required for PCR or Southern hybridization. Nevertheless, because of its superior versatility, reproducibility and resolution, genome macrorestriction analysis is currently a method of choice for typing a majority of nosocomial pathogens and some community-acquired pathogens Tenover et al. The sensitivity of PFGE to detect genomic rearrangements makes appropriate interpretation of minor pattern differences a key to its correct application to outbreak investigations and surveillance studies.

Interlaboratory standardization has not yet reached a sufficient level to allow the use of common type nomenclature or direct DNA pattern exchange. In recent years, a number of PCR-based strategies have been developed for strain discrimination of microbial pathogens. In PCR-gene RFLP typing , a target sequence, 1 to 2 kb long and known to show polymorphism among strains of the species of interest, is amplified at high stringency.

The amplified product is cut with restriction endonucleases and isolates are compared by RFLP pattern. The PCR-serotyping method takes advantages of the conserved sequences at each end of protein antigens genes, like flagellin and outer membrane proteins of Gram-negative pathogens, for amplification of allelic variant sequences encoding the central, antigenically variable portion of these proteins.

The advantages of these methods over conventional serotyping include the unlimited availability of specific reagents, use of universal techniques and typeability of variant strains with cryptic antigens. Moreover, it can be biased either by mosaicism due to horizontal transfer, e. As the logical next step, nucleotide sequencing of PCR-amplified genes is the most sensitive and accurate means of indexing localized DNA polymorphism for strain typing.

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However, the time required and cost of the procedure are currently limiting the use of this method which has been applied to type viruses such as hepatitis viruses and HIV, but also bacteria such as Streptococcus pyogenes Perea Mejia et al. With the rapid progress of automated, high troughput methods like DNA chip technology Chee et al. In the early cycles of the PCR reaction, the primer anneals to multiple sequences with partial homology, and fragments of DNA lying within less than a few kb between annealing sites on opposite DNA strands are amplified.


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After additional cycles, a strain-specific array of amplified DNA segments of various sizes is obtained. This simple and rapid technique has been successfully applied to genotypic strain delineation and genetic population analysis of a broad range of microbial pathogens, including bacteria, fungi and protozoans. All isolates are typeable and no prior knowledge of target genome sequences is necessary. Discrimination is good and correlates well with other genotyping techniques. The discriminatory power is variable according to number and sequence of arbitrary primers and amplification conditions.

A number of technical factors need to be strictly standardized for optimal reproducibility Grundmann et al. Progress toward enhanced resolution and reproducibility of analysis of PCR products is achieved by incorporating fluorescent primers in the reaction and performing computer-analysis of amplimer patterns by an automated laser fluorescence detection system. In general, differences in protocols, equipment, or even the batch of reagent used result in different AP-PCR patterns, but the overall clustering and grouping of isolates into identical, similar, or divergent patterns is reproducible.

This makes the method adequate for rapid comparative typing but less suitable for library typing in surveillance programs. Repetitive element PCR rep-PCR typing consists of PCR amplification of spacer fragments lying between repeat motifs of the genome by use of two outwardly-directed primers at high stringency.

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Their major advantage is a better reproducibility as compared with AP-PCR analysis, which may enable their standardization for use as library typing systems. Another set of innovative PCR-based strategy, which also appears to offer high resolution and good reproducibility, are the amplified fragment length polymorphism AFLP method Vos et al. In these methods, a restriction-ligation step produces restricted genomic DNA fragments tagged with specially designed adapters.

A set of different primers complementary to these adapters and adjacent nucleotides are then used to PCR amplify various parts of the tagged restriction fragments, thereby selectively highlighting a subset of restriction fragments. More studies are needed to determine the stability of these markers over time, establish criteria for interpretation of pattern differences and evaluate inter-laboratory reproducibility.

Finally, specialized genotyping schemes use reverse dot blot or line blot binary hybridization patterns of crude genomic DNA or amplified regions thereof with immobilized, clone-specific DNA probes. This method has been developed for typing of S. These library probe genotyping systems provide unambiguous, numeric clonal signatures that should be reproducible between laboratories. Inclusion of additional polymorphic sequences should increase the discrimination to the level needed for surveillance of major pathogens.

The power of these genotypic hybridization schemes could be much enhanced by the use of high density DNA probe assays, as this technology currently allows parallel analysis of 10 4 target sequences within a few hours. We use molecular typing systems in epidemiologic studies to determine if isolates are clonally related and thus belong to the same chain of transmission. When a set of isolates show identical DNA banding patterns, this clue to clonality is proportional to the number of typing systems used and their discriminatory power.


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A problem arises when patterns are similar but not identical. What level of pattern similarity can be used to define clonally or epidemiologically related organisms? This level needs to be adjusted to the resolving power of the system used, the genomic plasticity of the organism under study and the time scale of the investigation. Suggested rules for interpretation of differences in PFGE patterns, as applied to outbreak investigations Struelens et al.

Altough this quantitative analysis has been criticized as invalid for phylogenetic inferences, because DNA restriction fragment pattern variation is not due to independent events, it is supported by population analysis, e. Additional population genetic and micro-evolution studies are needed to provide a better understanding of the nature and frequency of molecular events giving rise to genomic polymorphisms exploited empirically by epidemiologists for strain typing Tibayrenc , Struelens et al. Molecular typing systems are undergoing rapid technical improvements.

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Advances in the understanding of biological basis of microbial biodiversity at subspecies levels will improve the conceptual framework required for proper epidemiologic interpretation of typing results. Wider application of these systems should shed light to the epidemiology of hospital and community-acquired infections and, therefore, allow for more effective control and prevention strategies. Results from 5 years of nationwide DNA fingerprinting of Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex isolates in a country with a low incidence of M. J Clin Microbiol 36 : Accessing genetic information with high-density DNA arrays.

Science : J Clin Microbiol 35 : Multicenter study using standardized protocols and reagents for evaluation of reproductibility of PCR-based fingerprinting of Acinetobacter spp. Evidence for recombination in the flagellin locus of Campylobacter jejuni : implications for the flagellin gene typing scheme.

Simultaneous detection and strain differentiation of Mycobacterium tuberculosis for diagnosis and epidemiology. Epidemiologic typing systems. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 17 : DNA fingerprinting by infrequent-restriction-site amplification. J Clin Microbiol 34 : Characterization of group A Streptococcus strains recovered from Mexican children with pharyngitis by automated DNA sequencing of virulence-related genes : unexpectedly large variation in the gene sic encoding a complement-inhibiting protein.

Bacterial Genomics

Consensus guidelines for appropriate use and evaluation of microbial epidemiologic typing systems. Clin Microbiol Infect 2 : Genome macrorestriction analysis of diversity and variability of Pseudomonas aeruginosa strains infecting cystic fibrosis patients. J Clin Microbiol 31 : How to select and interpret molecular typing methods for epidemiological studies of bacterial infections: a review for healthcare epidemiologists. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 18 : Population genetics of parasitic protozoa and other microorganisms.

The mission of the Bacterial Genomics Group at Broad is to develop and implement 'omics methodologies to answer pressing questions related to bacteria and their role in human health. A major focus is the evolution and spread of bacterial pathogens and antibiotic resistance including the interactions that these pathogens have with their host and host-associated microbiota. We devise and carry out large-scale studies that employ genomic, metagenomic and transcriptomic data sets to understand human pathologies caused by e. We do this in close collaboration with clinical, academic and industry researchers from across the Broad community and around the globe.

Click on the links below to learn more about specific projects. Carbapenem resistant Enterobacteriaceae Sequencing and comparison of CRE genomes to identify routes of CRE transmission and the transfer of carbapenem resistance elements. Genomics and Metagenomics of Uropathogenesis Sequencing, transcriptomics, and metagenomics of samples from urinary tract infections to understand the determinants of uropathogenicity.

Interactions between bacteria and host Examining geographic expression patterns of bacterial and host genes in the gut to understand how bacteria colonize gut tissue. Fusobacterium Sequencing and comparative analysys of Fusobacterium genomes to understand determinants of invasion and pathogenicity.