1887

Abstract

is an animal-adapted member of the complex (MTBC), which was originally isolated from voles, but has more recently also been isolated from other selected mammalian hosts, including occasionally from humans. Here, we have generated and analysed the complete genome sequences of five representative vole and clinical isolates using PacBio- and Illumina-based technologies, and have tested their virulence and vaccine potential in SCID (severe combined immune deficient) mouse and/or guinea pig infection models. We show that the clinical isolates studied here cluster separately in the phylogenetic tree from vole isolates and other clades from publicly available genome sequences. These data also confirm that the vole and clinical isolates were all lacking the specific RD1 region, which in other tubercle bacilli encodes the ESX-1 type VII secretion system. Biochemical analysis further revealed marked phenotypic differences between isolates in type VII-mediated secretion of selected PE and PPE proteins, which in part were attributed to specific genetic polymorphisms. Infection experiments in the highly susceptible SCID mouse model showed that the clinical isolates were significantly more virulent than the tested vole isolates, but still much less virulent than the H37Rv control strain. The strong attenuation of the ATCC 35872 vole isolate in immunocompromised mice, even compared to the attenuated BCG (bacillus Calmette–Guérin) vaccine, and its historic use in human vaccine trials encouraged us to test this strain’s vaccine potential in a guinea pig model, where it demonstrated similar protective efficacy as a BCG control, making it a strong candidate for vaccination of immunocompromised individuals in whom BCG vaccination is contra-indicated. Overall, we provide new insights into the genomic and phenotypic variabilities and particularities of members of an understudied clade of the MTBC, which all share a recent common ancestor that is characterized by the deletion of the RD1 region.

Funding
This study was supported by the:
  • Agence Nationale de la Recherche (Award ANR-10-INBS-09-09)
    • Principle Award Recipient: LaurenceMa
  • Institut Pasteur (Award Pasteur-Roux-Cantarini postdoctoral fellowship program)
    • Principle Award Recipient: MickaelOrgeur
  • Fondation pour la Recherche Médicale (Award SPF20160936136)
    • Principle Award Recipient: MickaelOrgeur
  • Agence Nationale de la Recherche (Award ANR-10-LABX-62-IBEID)
    • Principle Award Recipient: RolandBrosch
  • Agence Nationale de la Recherche (Award ANR-16-CE35-0009)
    • Principle Award Recipient: RolandBrosch
  • Horizon 2020 Framework Programme (Award 260872)
    • Principle Award Recipient: RolandBrosch
  • This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License.
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2021-10-25
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