The molecular epidemiology of Mycobacterium tuberculosis : host and bacterial factors perpetuating the epidemic

Hanekom, Madeleine (2009-12)

Thesis (PhD (Biomedical Sciences. Molecular Biology and Human Genetics))--University of Stellenbosch, 2009.

Dissertation presented for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at Stellenbosch University.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study describes the molecular epidemiology of Mycobacterium tuberculosis strains with the Beijing genotype. This genotype has received clinical prominence due to its global distribution and the hypothesis that these strains have acquired the ability to evade the protective effect of BCG vaccination, spread more readily, acquire drug resistance and cause severe forms of disease. Molecular biological techniques were used in a series of studies to elucidate the genetic evolutionary mechanisms underlying the success of this genotype in Cape Town, South Africa. Using a collection of 40 different markers it was possible for the first time to construct a phylogenetic history of Beijing genotype strains. This phylogeny was characterized by the consecutive evolution of 7 sublineages. Analysis of epidemiological data in relation to these sublineages showed an association between more recently evolved Beijing strains and an increased ability to transmit and cause disease. From these findings it was hypothesized that the pathogenic characteristics of the Beijing genotype were not conserved but rather that strains representative of the different sublineages had evolved unique properties. In order to determine whether these socalled unique properties were associated with either the host population or the genetic background of strains from sublineage 7, a meta-analysis of published Mycobacterial Interspersed Repetitive-Unit (MIRU) typing data (East Asia) was compared with MIRU typing data from the South African strains in the context of their phylogenetic histories. This study showed that Beijing genotype strains in South Africa originated in East Asia following their introduction during the early 18th century. A significant association was observed between the frequency of occurrence of strains from defined Beijing sublineages and the human population from whom they were cultured (p <0.0001). Based on these findings it was proposed that either the host population (South African) had selected for a particular Beijing sublineage (i.e. sublineage 7) or that strains from that sublineage had adapted to be more successful in the South African population. In a subsequent study, using the methodology developed in the above studies, it was shown that strains from the ancestrally positioned lineage (termed “atypical” Beijing genotype) were over-represented in drug resistant isolates in the Eastern Cape region. This contradicts current dogma which suggests that “atypical” Beijing genotype strains are attenuated in their ability to transmit. However, this phenomenon may be ameliorated in immune-compromised patients as review of the clinical records showed that transmission was associated with HIV co-infection. These findings highlight the need to improve tuberculosis control in vulnerable populations as strains which would normally not contribute significantly to the epidemic now become a cause for concern especially if they are associated with drug resistance. To improve our understanding of the evolution of the Beijing genotype, the genomic stability of an additional 27 polymorphic markers were analysed. These markers have recently been proposed as the new standard in molecular epidemiological studies and were based on MIRU-Variable Number Tandem-Repeats (VNTR) sequences. Superimposition of the MIRU-VNTR data onto the phylogenetic tree showed excellent concordance thereby demonstrating that these alleles were largely stable over time. It is currently not known how the alleles that do change could influence pathogenicity. The results of this study also demonstrated discordance between strains defined by IS6110 DNA fingerprinting and those defined by MIRU-VNTR typing thereby demonstrating that these markers evolve independently and at different rates. Furthermore, the MIRU-VNTR typing method was unable to predict transmission of drug resistant strains which contradict previous reports from low incidence settings. This has significant implications for the use of this typing method in high incidence settings. Using an improved PCR-based method it was possible for the first time, to identify the 5 most prominent phylogenetic lineages in primary cultures of adult tuberculosis patients resident in a high HIV/TB co-infection setting. The results of this study showed that 15% of the study population was infected with two or more strains and Beijing genotype strains were over-represented in these mixed infections. Furthermore, drug susceptibility tests showed that one patient was co-infected with both a drug sensitive and a drug resistant strain. Since mixed infections have been implicated in treatment failure, these findings demonstrate the epidemiological importance of detecting mixed infections in vulnerable populations. This PCR-based method was further applied to cultures of paediatric tuberculosis patients to classify strains which spoligotyping was unable to define. The result of this study showed three mixed infections which otherwise would have been missed. In order to determine whether clinical disease presentation of patients infected with strains of the Beijing genotype were different from that of patients infected with non-Beijing genotype strains, clinical and demographic data of these two groups were analysed. This study showed that patients infected with strains of the Beijing genotype were highly infectious as defined by the increased bacterial load in sputum specimens. However, this finding could not be validated by lung pathology according to chest radiographs of infected patients.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie studie beskryf die molekulêre epidemiologie van Mycobacterium tuberculosis rasse met die Beijing genotipe. Hierdie genotipe is van groot kliniese belang weens hul globale verspreiding en die hipotese dat hierdie rasse die vermoë ontwikkel het om die beskermende effek van BCG vaksinasie te vermy, om meer geredelik te versprei, middelweerstandigheid te ontwikkel en erger vorms van siekte te veroorsaak. Molekulêre biologiese tegnieke is gebruik in ‘n reeks studies om die genetiese evolusionêre meganismes onderliggend tot die sukses van hierdie genotipe in Kaapstad, Suid-Afrika te verklaar. Deur ‘n versameling van 40 verskillende merkers te gebruik, was dit moontlik om vir die eerste keer ‘n filogenetiese stamboom van die Beijing ras genotipe te skep. Hierdie filogenie word gekenmerk deur die opeenvolgende evolusie van 7 ras sublyne. Met die analise van epidemiologiese data in verhouding tot hierdie ras sublyne, is ‘n assosiasie tussen die mees onlangs ontwikkelde Beijing rasse en die verhoogde vermoë om te versprei en siekte te veroorsaak, getoon. Vanweë hierdie bevindinge, is ‘n hipotese daargestel dat die patogeniese kenmerke van die Beijing genotipe nie in alle raslyne voorkom nie, maar eerder dat verteenwoordigende rasse van die verskillende sublyne unieke eienskappe deur evolusie ontwikkel het. ‘n Metaanalise van gepubliseerde MIRU tipering data van Oos-Asië is vergelyk met MIRU tipering data van Suid-Afrikaanse rasse in die konteks van hul filogenetiese geskiedenis om te bepaal watter van hierdie sogenoemde unieke eienskappe geassosieer is met die gasheerpopulasie en watter eienskappe geassosieer is met die genetiese agtergrond van die sublyn 7 rasse. Hierdie studie het getoon dat die Beijing ras genotipe van Suid-Afrika hul oorsprong gekry het van Oos-Asië en vir die eerste keer waargeneem is in die vroeë 18de eeu. ‘n Betekenisvolle assosiasie is waargeneem tussen die frekwensie waarteen die rasse van ‘n bepaalde Beijing sublyn voorkom en die menslike populasie van wie hulle geïsoleer is (p < 0.0001). Gebaseer op hierdie bevindinge is dit voorgestel dat die menslike populasie (Suid-Afrikaners) vir ‘n spesifieke Beijing sublyn geselekteer het (bv. Sublyn 7) of dat rasse van hierdie sublyn aangepas het om meer suksesvol te wees in die Suid-Afrikaanse populasie In ‘n daaropvolgende studie is, deur gebruik te maak van die metodiek wat ontwikkel is vir die bogenoemde studies, getoon dat die voorouerlike sublyn (bekend as die“atipiese” Beijing genotipe) die mees verteenwoordigende sublyn was onder middelweerstandige isolate van die Oos-Kaap gebied. Dit is teenstrydig met die bestaande dogma wat bepaal dat die “atipiese” Beijing genotipe rasse hulle vermoë om te versprei verloor het. Hierdie verskynsel kan egter versterk word in immuun inkompetente pasiënte aangesien hersiening van die kliniese rekords aangedui het dat verspreiding geassosieer was met HIV ko-infeksie. Hierdie bevindinge bring die behoefte om TB beheer in vatbare populasies te verbeter, na vore, omrede rasse wat gewoonlik `n onbetekenisvolle bydrae tot die epidemie lewer, nou ‘n rede vir kommer is veral as hulle met middelweerstandigheid geassosieer is. Om ons insig rakende die evolusie van die Beijing genotipe te verbeter, is die genomiese stabiliteit van ‘n addisionele 27 polimorfiese merkers geanaliseer. Daar is onlangs voorgestel dat hierdie merkers, wat gebaseer is op MIRU-VNTR volgordes,die nuwe standaard vir molekulêre studies is. Die MIRU-VNTR data is op die filogenetiese boom geplaas en het uitstekende ooreenstemming getoon wat die allele se stabiliteit oor tyd gedemonstreer het. Dit is tans nie duidelik hoe van die allele wat wel verander, die patogenisiteit beïnvloed nie. Die resultate van die studie wys ook onenigheid tussen rasse wat deur IS6110 DNA tipering gedefinieer is en dié wat deur MIRU-VNTR tipering gedefinieer is. Dit impliseer dus dat die evolusie van merkers onafhanklik van mekaar plaasvind en teen verskillende tempos. Verder was die MIRU-VNTR tipering metode nie in staat om verspreiding van middelweerstandige rasse te voorspel nie, wat teenstrydig is met vorige verslae waar lae insidensie omgewings bestudeer is. Dit het noemenswaardige implikasies vir die gebruik van hierdie tipering metode in hoë insidensie omgewings. ‘n Verbeterde PKR-gebaseerde metode is vir die eerste keer gebruik om die 5 mees prominente filogenetiese sublyne in primêre kulture van volwasse tuberkulose pasiënte van ‘n hoë MIV/TB ko-infeksie omgewing, te identifiseer. Die resultate van hierdie studie het gewys dat 15% van die studiepopulasie geïnfekteer is met twee of meer rasse en dat die Beijing genotipe ras die meeste voorgekom het in gemengde infeksies. Verder het middelweerstandige toetse gewys dat een pasiënt geïnfekteer was met beide ‘n middelsensitiewe en ‘n middelweerstandige ras. Gemengde infeksies is al vantevore gekoppel aan onsuksesvolle behandeling en dus demonstreer hierdie bevindinge die epidemiologiese belang van die opsporing van gemengde infeksies in vatbare populasies. Hierdie PKR-gebaseerde metode is verder gebruik om rasse wat voorkom in kulture van pediatriese pasiënte, wat spoligotipering nie kon klassifiseer nie, te klassifiseer. Die resultate het drie gemengde infeksies gewys wat sonder die PKR-gebaseerde metode, nie geïdentifiseer sou gewees het. Om te bepaal of die kliniese beeld van pasiënte wat geïnfekteer is met rasse van die Beijing genotipe verskil van dié van pasiënte wat geïnfekteer is met rasse van die nie-Beijing genotipe, is die kliniese en demografiese data van die twee groepe pasiënte geanaliseer. Hierdie studie wys dat pasiënte wat geïnfekteer is met rasse van die Beijing genotipe hoogs aansteeklik is (gedefinieer op grond van hoë bakteriële lading in sputum monsters). Hierdie bevindinge kon egter nie met behulp van long patologie op borskas X-strale bevestig word nie.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/4821
This item appears in the following collections: