• Comparative Genome Analysis and Global Phylogeny of the Toxin Variant Clostridium difficile PCR Ribotype 017 Reveals the Evolution of Two Independent Sublineages.

      Cairns, M D; Preston, M D; Hall, C L; Gerding, D N; Hawkey, P M; Kato, H; Kim, H; Kuijper, E J; Lawley, T D; Pituch, H; et al. (2017)
      The diarrheal pathogen Clostridium difficile consists of at least six distinct evolutionary lineages. The RT017 lineage is anomalous, as strains only express toxin B, compared to strains from other lineages that produce toxins A and B and, occasionally, binary toxin. Historically, RT017 initially was reported in Asia but now has been reported worldwide. We used whole-genome sequencing and phylogenetic analysis to investigate the patterns of global spread and population structure of 277 RT017 isolates from animal and human origins from six continents, isolated between 1990 and 2013. We reveal two distinct evenly split sublineages (SL1 and SL2) of C. difficile RT017 that contain multiple independent clonal expansions. All 24 animal isolates were contained within SL1 along with human isolates, suggesting potential transmission between animals and humans. Genetic analyses revealed an overrepresentation of antibiotic resistance genes. Phylogeographic analyses show a North American origin for RT017, as has been found for the recently emerged epidemic RT027 lineage. Despite having only one toxin, RT017 strains have evolved in parallel from at least two independent sources and can readily transmit between continents.
    • Whole-Genome Sequencing and Variant Analysis of Human Papillomavirus 16 Infections.

      van der Weele, Pascal; Meijer, Chris J L M; King, Audrey J (2017-10-01)
      Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a strongly conserved DNA virus, high-risk types of which can cause cervical cancer in persistent infections. The most common type found in HPV-attributable cancer is HPV16, which can be subdivided into four lineages (A to D) with different carcinogenic properties. Studies have shown HPV16 sequence diversity in different geographical areas, but only limited information is available regarding HPV16 diversity within a population, especially at the whole-genome level. We analyzed HPV16 major variant diversity and conservation in persistent infections and performed a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) comparison between persistent and clearing infections. Materials were obtained in the Netherlands from a cohort study with longitudinal follow-up for up to 3 years. Our analysis shows a remarkably large variant diversity in the population. Whole-genome sequences were obtained for 57 persistent and 59 clearing HPV16 infections, resulting in 109 unique variants. Interestingly, persistent infections were completely conserved through time. One reinfection event was identified where the initial and follow-up samples clustered differently. Non-A1/A2 variants seemed to clear preferentially (P = 0.02). Our analysis shows that population-wide HPV16 sequence diversity is very large. In persistent infections, the HPV16 sequence was fully conserved. Sequencing can identify HPV16 reinfections, although occurrence is rare. SNP comparison identified no strongly acting effect of the viral genome affecting HPV16 infection clearance or persistence in up to 3 years of follow-up. These findings suggest the progression of an early HPV16 infection could be host related.IMPORTANCE Human papillomavirus 16 (HPV16) is the predominant type found in cervical cancer. Progression of initial infection to cervical cancer has been linked to sequence properties; however, knowledge of variants circulating in European populations, especially with longitudinal follow-up, is limited. By sequencing a number of infections with known follow-up for up to 3 years, we gained initial insights into the genetic diversity of HPV16 and the effects of the viral genome on the persistence of infections. A SNP comparison between sequences obtained from clearing and persistent infections did not identify strongly acting DNA variations responsible for these infection outcomes. In addition, we identified an HPV16 reinfection event where sequencing of initial and follow-up samples showed different HPV16 variants. Based on conventional genotyping, this infection would incorrectly be considered a persistent HPV16 infection. In the context of vaccine efficacy and monitoring studies, such infections could potentially cause reduced reported efficacy or efficiency.