Microevolution of Serial Clinical Isolates of Cryptococcus neoformans var. grubii and C. gattii

Yuan Chen, Rhys A Farrer, Charles Giamberardino, Sharadha Sakthikumar, Alexander Jones, Timothy Yang, Jennifer L Tenor, Omar Wagih, Marelize Van Wyk, Nelesh P Govender, Thomas G Mitchell, Anastasia P Litvintseva, Christina A Cuomo (Corresponding Author), John R Perfect (Corresponding Author)

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Abstract

The pathogenic species of Cryptococcus are a major cause of mortality owing to severe infections in immunocompromised as well as immunocompetent individuals. Although antifungal treatment is usually effective, many patients relapse after treatment, and in such cases, comparative analyses of the genomes of incident and relapse isolates may reveal evidence of determinative, microevolutionary changes within the host. Here, we analyzed serial isolates cultured from cerebrospinal fluid specimens of 18 South African patients with recurrent cryptococcal meningitis. The time between collection of the incident isolates and collection of the relapse isolates ranged from 124 days to 290 days, and the analyses revealed that, during this period within the patients, the isolates underwent several genetic and phenotypic changes. Considering the vast genetic diversity of cryptococcal isolates in sub-Saharan Africa, it was not surprising to find that the relapse isolates had acquired different genetic and correlative phenotypic changes. They exhibited various mechanisms for enhancing virulence, such as growth at 39°C, adaptation to stress, and capsule production; a remarkable amplification of ERG11 at the native and unlinked locus may provide stable resistance to fluconazole. Our data provide a deeper understanding of the microevolution of Cryptococcus species under pressure from antifungal chemotherapy and host immune responses. This investigation clearly suggests a promising strategy to identify novel targets for improved diagnosis, therapy, and prognosis.

IMPORTANCE Opportunistic infections caused by species of the pathogenic yeast Cryptococcus lead to chronic meningoencephalitis and continue to ravage thousands of patients with HIV/AIDS. Despite receiving antifungal treatment, over 10% of patients develop recurrent disease. In this study, we collected isolates of Cryptococcus from cerebrospinal fluid specimens of 18 patients at the time of their diagnosis and when they relapsed several months later. We then sequenced and compared the genomic DNAs of each pair of initial and relapse isolates. We also tested the isolates for several key properties related to cryptococcal virulence as well as for their susceptibility to the antifungal drug fluconazole. These analyses revealed that the relapsing isolates manifested multiple genetic and chromosomal changes that affected a variety of genes implicated in the pathogenicity of Cryptococcus or resistance to fluconazole. This application of comparative genomics to serial clinical isolates provides a blueprint for identifying the mechanisms whereby pathogenic microbes adapt within patients to prolong disease.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00166-17
Number of pages18
JournalmBio
Volume8
Issue number2
Early online date7 Mar 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017

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Cryptococcus neoformans
Cryptococcus
Fluconazole
Recurrence
Virulence
Cerebrospinal Fluid
Cryptococcal Meningitis
Meningoencephalitis
Africa South of the Sahara
Opportunistic Infections
Therapeutics
Genomics
Capsules
Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome
Yeasts
HIV
Genome
Pressure
Drug Therapy
Mortality

Cite this

Chen, Y., Farrer, R. A., Giamberardino, C., Sakthikumar, S., Jones, A., Yang, T., ... Perfect, J. R. (2017). Microevolution of Serial Clinical Isolates of Cryptococcus neoformans var. grubii and C. gattii. mBio, 8(2), [e00166-17]. https://doi.org/10.1128/mBio.00166-17

Microevolution of Serial Clinical Isolates of Cryptococcus neoformans var. grubii and C. gattii. / Chen, Yuan; Farrer, Rhys A; Giamberardino, Charles; Sakthikumar, Sharadha; Jones, Alexander; Yang, Timothy; Tenor, Jennifer L; Wagih, Omar; Van Wyk, Marelize; Govender, Nelesh P; Mitchell, Thomas G; Litvintseva, Anastasia P; Cuomo, Christina A (Corresponding Author); Perfect, John R (Corresponding Author).

In: mBio, Vol. 8, No. 2, e00166-17, 03.2017.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Chen, Y, Farrer, RA, Giamberardino, C, Sakthikumar, S, Jones, A, Yang, T, Tenor, JL, Wagih, O, Van Wyk, M, Govender, NP, Mitchell, TG, Litvintseva, AP, Cuomo, CA & Perfect, JR 2017, 'Microevolution of Serial Clinical Isolates of Cryptococcus neoformans var. grubii and C. gattii' mBio, vol. 8, no. 2, e00166-17. https://doi.org/10.1128/mBio.00166-17
Chen Y, Farrer RA, Giamberardino C, Sakthikumar S, Jones A, Yang T et al. Microevolution of Serial Clinical Isolates of Cryptococcus neoformans var. grubii and C. gattii. mBio. 2017 Mar;8(2). e00166-17. https://doi.org/10.1128/mBio.00166-17
Chen, Yuan ; Farrer, Rhys A ; Giamberardino, Charles ; Sakthikumar, Sharadha ; Jones, Alexander ; Yang, Timothy ; Tenor, Jennifer L ; Wagih, Omar ; Van Wyk, Marelize ; Govender, Nelesh P ; Mitchell, Thomas G ; Litvintseva, Anastasia P ; Cuomo, Christina A ; Perfect, John R. / Microevolution of Serial Clinical Isolates of Cryptococcus neoformans var. grubii and C. gattii. In: mBio. 2017 ; Vol. 8, No. 2.
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abstract = "The pathogenic species of Cryptococcus are a major cause of mortality owing to severe infections in immunocompromised as well as immunocompetent individuals. Although antifungal treatment is usually effective, many patients relapse after treatment, and in such cases, comparative analyses of the genomes of incident and relapse isolates may reveal evidence of determinative, microevolutionary changes within the host. Here, we analyzed serial isolates cultured from cerebrospinal fluid specimens of 18 South African patients with recurrent cryptococcal meningitis. The time between collection of the incident isolates and collection of the relapse isolates ranged from 124 days to 290 days, and the analyses revealed that, during this period within the patients, the isolates underwent several genetic and phenotypic changes. Considering the vast genetic diversity of cryptococcal isolates in sub-Saharan Africa, it was not surprising to find that the relapse isolates had acquired different genetic and correlative phenotypic changes. They exhibited various mechanisms for enhancing virulence, such as growth at 39°C, adaptation to stress, and capsule production; a remarkable amplification of ERG11 at the native and unlinked locus may provide stable resistance to fluconazole. Our data provide a deeper understanding of the microevolution of Cryptococcus species under pressure from antifungal chemotherapy and host immune responses. This investigation clearly suggests a promising strategy to identify novel targets for improved diagnosis, therapy, and prognosis.IMPORTANCE Opportunistic infections caused by species of the pathogenic yeast Cryptococcus lead to chronic meningoencephalitis and continue to ravage thousands of patients with HIV/AIDS. Despite receiving antifungal treatment, over 10{\%} of patients develop recurrent disease. In this study, we collected isolates of Cryptococcus from cerebrospinal fluid specimens of 18 patients at the time of their diagnosis and when they relapsed several months later. We then sequenced and compared the genomic DNAs of each pair of initial and relapse isolates. We also tested the isolates for several key properties related to cryptococcal virulence as well as for their susceptibility to the antifungal drug fluconazole. These analyses revealed that the relapsing isolates manifested multiple genetic and chromosomal changes that affected a variety of genes implicated in the pathogenicity of Cryptococcus or resistance to fluconazole. This application of comparative genomics to serial clinical isolates provides a blueprint for identifying the mechanisms whereby pathogenic microbes adapt within patients to prolong disease.",
author = "Yuan Chen and Farrer, {Rhys A} and Charles Giamberardino and Sharadha Sakthikumar and Alexander Jones and Timothy Yang and Tenor, {Jennifer L} and Omar Wagih and {Van Wyk}, Marelize and Govender, {Nelesh P} and Mitchell, {Thomas G} and Litvintseva, {Anastasia P} and Cuomo, {Christina A} and Perfect, {John R}",
note = "We thank the Broad Institute Sequencing Platform for generating the Illumina sequences. We thank Chen-Hsin Yu for helping on the data processing of the phenotypic tests. We acknowledge the South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases’ GERMS-SA surveillance network through which these isolates were originally collected. This project has been funded in whole or in part by the following U.S. Health and Human Services grants from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: U19 AI110818 (Broad Institute), R01 AI93257 (J.R.P.), R01 AI73896 (J.R.P.), and R01 AI025783 (T.G.M.). R.A.F. was supported by the Wellcome Trust. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. The content is solely our responsibility and does not necessarily represent the official views of the funders. The use of product names in this manuscript does not imply their endorsement by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The findings and conclusions in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the CDC.",
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T1 - Microevolution of Serial Clinical Isolates of Cryptococcus neoformans var. grubii and C. gattii

AU - Chen, Yuan

AU - Farrer, Rhys A

AU - Giamberardino, Charles

AU - Sakthikumar, Sharadha

AU - Jones, Alexander

AU - Yang, Timothy

AU - Tenor, Jennifer L

AU - Wagih, Omar

AU - Van Wyk, Marelize

AU - Govender, Nelesh P

AU - Mitchell, Thomas G

AU - Litvintseva, Anastasia P

AU - Cuomo, Christina A

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N1 - We thank the Broad Institute Sequencing Platform for generating the Illumina sequences. We thank Chen-Hsin Yu for helping on the data processing of the phenotypic tests. We acknowledge the South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases’ GERMS-SA surveillance network through which these isolates were originally collected. This project has been funded in whole or in part by the following U.S. Health and Human Services grants from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: U19 AI110818 (Broad Institute), R01 AI93257 (J.R.P.), R01 AI73896 (J.R.P.), and R01 AI025783 (T.G.M.). R.A.F. was supported by the Wellcome Trust. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. The content is solely our responsibility and does not necessarily represent the official views of the funders. The use of product names in this manuscript does not imply their endorsement by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The findings and conclusions in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the CDC.

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N2 - The pathogenic species of Cryptococcus are a major cause of mortality owing to severe infections in immunocompromised as well as immunocompetent individuals. Although antifungal treatment is usually effective, many patients relapse after treatment, and in such cases, comparative analyses of the genomes of incident and relapse isolates may reveal evidence of determinative, microevolutionary changes within the host. Here, we analyzed serial isolates cultured from cerebrospinal fluid specimens of 18 South African patients with recurrent cryptococcal meningitis. The time between collection of the incident isolates and collection of the relapse isolates ranged from 124 days to 290 days, and the analyses revealed that, during this period within the patients, the isolates underwent several genetic and phenotypic changes. Considering the vast genetic diversity of cryptococcal isolates in sub-Saharan Africa, it was not surprising to find that the relapse isolates had acquired different genetic and correlative phenotypic changes. They exhibited various mechanisms for enhancing virulence, such as growth at 39°C, adaptation to stress, and capsule production; a remarkable amplification of ERG11 at the native and unlinked locus may provide stable resistance to fluconazole. Our data provide a deeper understanding of the microevolution of Cryptococcus species under pressure from antifungal chemotherapy and host immune responses. This investigation clearly suggests a promising strategy to identify novel targets for improved diagnosis, therapy, and prognosis.IMPORTANCE Opportunistic infections caused by species of the pathogenic yeast Cryptococcus lead to chronic meningoencephalitis and continue to ravage thousands of patients with HIV/AIDS. Despite receiving antifungal treatment, over 10% of patients develop recurrent disease. In this study, we collected isolates of Cryptococcus from cerebrospinal fluid specimens of 18 patients at the time of their diagnosis and when they relapsed several months later. We then sequenced and compared the genomic DNAs of each pair of initial and relapse isolates. We also tested the isolates for several key properties related to cryptococcal virulence as well as for their susceptibility to the antifungal drug fluconazole. These analyses revealed that the relapsing isolates manifested multiple genetic and chromosomal changes that affected a variety of genes implicated in the pathogenicity of Cryptococcus or resistance to fluconazole. This application of comparative genomics to serial clinical isolates provides a blueprint for identifying the mechanisms whereby pathogenic microbes adapt within patients to prolong disease.

AB - The pathogenic species of Cryptococcus are a major cause of mortality owing to severe infections in immunocompromised as well as immunocompetent individuals. Although antifungal treatment is usually effective, many patients relapse after treatment, and in such cases, comparative analyses of the genomes of incident and relapse isolates may reveal evidence of determinative, microevolutionary changes within the host. Here, we analyzed serial isolates cultured from cerebrospinal fluid specimens of 18 South African patients with recurrent cryptococcal meningitis. The time between collection of the incident isolates and collection of the relapse isolates ranged from 124 days to 290 days, and the analyses revealed that, during this period within the patients, the isolates underwent several genetic and phenotypic changes. Considering the vast genetic diversity of cryptococcal isolates in sub-Saharan Africa, it was not surprising to find that the relapse isolates had acquired different genetic and correlative phenotypic changes. They exhibited various mechanisms for enhancing virulence, such as growth at 39°C, adaptation to stress, and capsule production; a remarkable amplification of ERG11 at the native and unlinked locus may provide stable resistance to fluconazole. Our data provide a deeper understanding of the microevolution of Cryptococcus species under pressure from antifungal chemotherapy and host immune responses. This investigation clearly suggests a promising strategy to identify novel targets for improved diagnosis, therapy, and prognosis.IMPORTANCE Opportunistic infections caused by species of the pathogenic yeast Cryptococcus lead to chronic meningoencephalitis and continue to ravage thousands of patients with HIV/AIDS. Despite receiving antifungal treatment, over 10% of patients develop recurrent disease. In this study, we collected isolates of Cryptococcus from cerebrospinal fluid specimens of 18 patients at the time of their diagnosis and when they relapsed several months later. We then sequenced and compared the genomic DNAs of each pair of initial and relapse isolates. We also tested the isolates for several key properties related to cryptococcal virulence as well as for their susceptibility to the antifungal drug fluconazole. These analyses revealed that the relapsing isolates manifested multiple genetic and chromosomal changes that affected a variety of genes implicated in the pathogenicity of Cryptococcus or resistance to fluconazole. This application of comparative genomics to serial clinical isolates provides a blueprint for identifying the mechanisms whereby pathogenic microbes adapt within patients to prolong disease.

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