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Revealing the Virulence Potential o f Clinical and Environmental Aspergillus fumigatus Isolates Using Whole-Genome Sequencing

Puertolas-Balint, F., Rossen, J. W. A., dos Santos, C. O., Chlebowicz, M. M. A., Raangs, E. C., van Putten, M. L., Sola-Campoy, P. J., Han, L., Schmidt, M. & Garcia-Cobos, S., 4-Sep-2019, In : Frontiers in Microbiology. 10, 12 p., 1970.

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Aspergillus fumigatus is considered a common causative agent of human fungal infections. A restricted number of virulence factors have been described, and none of them lead to a differentiation in the virulence level among different strains. Variations in the virulence phenotype depending on the isolate origin, measured as survival percentage in animal infection models, have been previously reported. In this study, we analyzed the whole-genome sequence of A. fumigatus isolates from clinical and environmental origins to determine their virulence genetic content. The sample included four isolates sequenced at the University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG), three clinical (two of them isolated from the same patient) and the experimental strain B5233, and the draft genomes of one reference strain, two environmental and two clinical isolates obtained from a public database. The fungal genomes were screened for the presence of virulence-related genes (VRGs) using an in-house database of 244 genes related to thermotolerance, resistance to immune responses, cell wall formation, nutrient uptake, signaling and regulation, and production of toxins and secondary metabolites and allergens. In addition, we performed a variant calling analysis to compare the isolates sequenced at the UMCG and investigated their genetic relatedness using the TRESP (Tandem Repeats located within Exons of Surface Protein coding genes) genotyping method. We neither observed a difference in the virulence genetic content between the clinical isolates causing an invasive infection and a colonizing clinical isolate nor between isolates from the clinical and environmental origin. The four novel A. fumigatus sequences had a different TRESP genotype and a total number of genetic variants ranging from 48,590 to 68,352. In addition, a comparative genomics analysis showed the presence of single nucleotide polymorphisms in VRGs and repetitive genetic elements located next to VRG groups, which could influence the regulation of these genes. In conclusion, our genomic analysis revealed a high genetic diversity between environmental and clinical A. fumigatus isolates, as well as between clinical isolates from the same patient, indicating an infection with a mixed-population in the latter case. However, all isolates had a similar virulence genetic content, demonstrating their pathogenic potential at least at the genomic level.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1970
Number of pages12
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Volume10
Publication statusPublished - 4-Sep-2019

    Keywords

  • Aspergillus fumigatus, virulence, whole-genome sequencing, clinical and environmental isolates, gene database, READ ALIGNMENT, RESISTANCE, STRAINS, GENES

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