Whole-genome analysis of diverse Chlamydia trachomatis strains identifies phylogenetic relationships masked by current clinical typing.
ABSTRACT: Chlamydia trachomatis is responsible for both trachoma and sexually transmitted infections, causing substantial morbidity and economic cost globally. Despite this, our knowledge of its population and evolutionary genetics is limited. Here we present a detailed phylogeny based on whole-genome sequencing of representative strains of C. trachomatis from both trachoma and lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV) biovars from temporally and geographically diverse sources. Our analysis shows that predicting phylogenetic structure using ompA, which is traditionally used to classify Chlamydia, is misleading because extensive recombination in this region masks any true relationships present. We show that in many instances, ompA is a chimera that can be exchanged in part or as a whole both within and between biovars. We also provide evidence for exchange of, and recombination within, the cryptic plasmid, which is another key diagnostic target. We used our phylogenetic framework to show how genetic exchange has manifested itself in ocular, urogenital and LGV C. trachomatis strains, including the epidemic LGV serotype L2b.
Project description:Chlamydia trachomatis is the most prevalent sexually transmitted bacterium worldwide and the causative agent of trachoma. Its strains are classified according to their ompA genotypes, which are strongly linked to differential tissue tropism and disease outcomes [ocular disease, urogenital disease and lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV)]. While the genome-based species phylogenetic tree presents four main clades correlating with tropism/prevalence, namely ocular, LGV, urogenital T1 (more prevalent genotypes) and urogenital T2 (less prevalent genotypes), inter-clade exchange of ompA is considered a rare phenomenon probably mediating marked tropism alterations. An LGV epidemic, associated with the clonal expansion of the L2b genotype, has emerged in the last few decades, raising concerns particularly due to its atypical clinical presentation (ulcerative proctitis) and circulation among men who have sex with men (MSM). Here, we report an LGV outbreak, mostly affecting human immunodeficiency virus-positive MSM engaging in high-risk sexual practices, caused by an L2b strain with a rather unique non-LGV ompA signature that precluded the laboratory notification of this outbreak as LGV. C. trachomatis whole-genome capture and sequencing directly from clinical samples was applied to deeply characterize the genomic backbone of this novel LGV outbreak-causing clone. It revealed a chimeric genome structure due to the genetic transfer of ompA and four neighbouring genes from a serovar D/Da strain, likely possessing the genomic backbone associated with the more prevalent urogenital genotypes (T1 clade), to an LGV (L2b) strain. The hybrid L2b/D-Da strain presents the adhesin and immunodominant antigen MOMP (major outer membrane protein) (encoded by ompA) with an epitope repertoire typical of non-invasive genital strains, while keeping the genome-dispersed virulence fingerprint of a classical LGV strain. As previously reported for inter-clade ompA exchange among non-LGV clades, this novel C. trachomatis genomic mosaic involving a contemporary epidemiologically and clinically relevant LGV strain may have implications on its transmission, tissue tropism and pathogenic capabilities. The emergence of variants with epidemic and pathogenic potential highlights the need for more focused surveillance strategies to capture C. trachomatis evolution in action.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV) is caused by Chlamydia trachomatis strains with ompA genotypes L1 to L3. An LGV epidemic associated with the L2b genotype has emerged in the past few decades amongst men who have sex with men (MSM). C. trachomatis genotypes can be discriminated by outer membrane protein A gene (ompA) sequencing, however this method has limited resolution. This study employed a high-resolution genotyping method, namely, multi-locus tandem repeat (VNTR) analysis with ompA sequencing (MLVA-ompA), to assess the distribution of LGV MLVA-ompA genotypes amongst individuals attending genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics in London.<h4>Methods</h4>Clinical specimens were collected from individuals attending eight London-based GUM clinics. Specimens that tested positive for C. trachomatis by commercial nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT) were confirmed as LGV by pmpH real-time PCR. LGV-positive DNA extracts were subsequently genotyped using MLVA-ompA.<h4>Results</h4>Two hundred and thirty DNA extracts were confirmed as LGV, and 162 (70%) yielded complete MLVA-ompA genotypes. Six LGV MLVA-ompA genotypes were identified: 1.9.2b-L2, 1.9.3b-L2b, 1.9.2b-L2b, 1.9.2b-L2b/D, 1.4a.2b-L2b, and 5.9.2b-L1. The following LGV ompA genotypes were identified (in descending order of abundance): L2, L2b, L2b/D, and L1. Eight ompA sequences with the hybrid L2b/D profile were detected. The hybrid sequence was identical to the ompA of a recombinant L2b/D strain detected in Portugal in 2017.<h4>Conclusions</h4>The L2 ompA genotype was found to predominate in the London study population. The study detected an unusual hybrid L2b/D ompA profile that was previously reported in Portugal. We recommend further monitoring and surveillance of LGV strains within the UK population.
Project description:We describe a change in the molecular epidemiology of Chlamydia trachomatis strains involved in an outbreak of rectal lymphogranuloma venereum in France during January 2010-April 2015. Until 2012, the C. trachomatis L2b strain predominated; however, starting in 2013, most cases involved the L2 strain. We also identified 4 genetic L2b ompA variants.
Project description:Lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV) is a sexually transmitted infection that is causing an ongoing epidemic in men who have sex with men (MSM) in Europe, the United Kingdom, and North America. Twenty-nine rectal swabs positive for Chlamydia trachomatis were analyzed by real-time PCR for the presence of LGV serovars. Genotyping revealed an identical L2b serovar from four specimens. All patients were MSM and human immunodeficiency virus infected. Three of the four presented with severe ulcerative proctitis. We report a cluster of rectal LGV serovar L2b infections in Sydney, Australia.
Project description:Lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV), the invasive infection of the sexually transmissible infection (STI) <i>Chlamydia trachomatis</i>, is caused by strains from the LGV biovar, most commonly represented by <i>ompA</i>-genotypes L2b and L2. We investigated the diversity in LGV samples across an international collection over seven years using typing and genome sequencing. LGV-positive samples (<i>n</i>=321) from eight countries collected between 2011 and 2017 (Spain <i>n</i>=97, Netherlands <i>n</i>=67, Switzerland <i>n</i>=64, Australia <i>n</i>=53, Sweden <i>n</i>=37, Hungary <i>n</i>=31, Czechia <i>n</i>=30, Slovenia <i>n</i>=10) were genotyped for <i>pmpH</i> and <i>ompA</i> variants. All were found to contain the 9 bp insertion in the <i>pmpH</i> gene, previously associated with <i>ompA</i>-genotype L2b. However, analysis of the <i>ompA</i> gene shows <i>ompA</i>-genotype L2b (<i>n</i>=83), <i>ompA</i>-genotype L2 (<i>n</i>=180) and several variants of these (<i>n</i>=52; 12 variant types), as well as other/mixed <i>ompA</i>-genotypes (<i>n</i>=6). To elucidate the genomic diversity, whole genome sequencing (WGS) was performed from selected samples using SureSelect target enrichment, resulting in 42 genomes, covering a diversity of <i>ompA</i>-genotypes and representing most of the countries sampled. A phylogeny of these data clearly shows that these <i>ompA</i>-genotypes derive from an <i>ompA</i>-genotype L2b ancestor, carrying up to eight SNPs per isolate. SNPs within <i>ompA</i> are overrepresented among genomic changes in these samples, each of which results in an amino acid change in the variable domains of OmpA (major outer membrane protein, MOMP). A reversion to <i>ompA</i>-genotype L2 with the L2b genomic backbone is commonly seen. The wide diversity of <i>ompA</i>-genotypes found in these recent LGV samples indicates that this gene is under immunological selection. Our results suggest that the <i>ompA</i>-genotype L2b genomic backbone is the dominant strain circulating and evolving particularly in men who have sex with men (MSM) populations.
Project description:Chlamydia trachomatis is the most common cause of sexually transmitted infections in the UK, a statistic that is also reflected globally. There are three biovariants of C. trachomatis: trachoma (serotypes A-C) and two sexually transmitted pathovars; serotypes D-K and lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV). Trachoma isolates and the sexually transmitted serotypes D-K are noninvasive, whereas the LGV strains are invasive, causing a disseminating infection of the local draining lymph nodes. Genome sequences are available for single isolates from the trachoma (serotype A) and sexually transmitted (serotype D) biotypes. We sequenced two isolates from the remaining biotype, LGV, a long-term laboratory passaged strain and the recent "epidemic" LGV isolate-causing proctitis. Although the genome of the LGV strain shows no additional genes that could account for the differences in disease outcome, we found evidence of functional gene loss and identified regions of heightened sequence variation that have previously been shown to be important sites for interstrain recombination. We have used new sequencing technologies to show that the recent clinical LGV isolate causing proctitis is unlikely to be a newly emerged strain but is most probably an old strain with relatively new clinical manifestations.
Project description:Chlamydia trachomatis is an obligate intracellular bacterial pathogen that causes blinding trachoma and sexually transmitted disease. C. trachomatis isolates are classified into 2 biovars-lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV) and trachoma-which are distinguished biologically by their natural host cell infection tropism. LGV biovars infect macrophages and are invasive, whereas trachoma biovars infect oculo-urogenital epithelial cells and are noninvasive. The C. trachomatis plasmid is an important virulence factor in the pathogenesis of these infections. Central to its pathogenic role is the transcriptional regulatory function of the plasmid protein Pgp4, which regulates the expression of plasmid and chromosomal virulence genes. As many gene regulatory functions are post-transcriptional, we employed a comparative proteomic study of cells infected with plasmid-cured C. trachomatis serovars A and D (trachoma biovar), a L2 serovar (LGV biovar), and the L2 serovar transformed with a plasmid containing a nonsense mutation in pgp4 to more completely elucidate the effects of the plasmid on chlamydial infection biology. Our results show that the Pgp4-dependent elevations in the levels of Pgp3 and a conserved core set of chromosomally encoded proteins are remarkably similar for serovars within both C. trachomatis biovars. Conversely, we found a plasmid-dependent, Pgp4-independent, negative regulation in the expression of the chlamydial protease-like activity factor (CPAF) for the L2 serovar but not the A and D serovars. The molecular mechanism of plasmid-dependent negative regulation of CPAF expression in the LGV serovar is not understood but is likely important to understanding its macrophage infection tropism and invasive infection nature.IMPORTANCE The Chlamydia trachomatis plasmid is an important virulence factor in the pathogenesis of chlamydial infection. It is known that plasmid protein 4 (Pgp4) functions in the transcriptional regulation of the plasmid virulence protein 3 (Pgp3) and multiple chromosomal loci of unknown function. Since many gene regulatory functions can be post-transcriptional, we undertook a comparative proteomic analysis to better understand the plasmid's role in chlamydial and host protein expression. We report that Pgp4 is a potent and specific master positive regulator of a common core of plasmid and chromosomal virulence genes shared by multiple C. trachomatis serovars. Notably, we show that the plasmid is a negative regulator of the expression of the chlamydial virulence factor CPAF. The plasmid regulation of CPAF is independent of Pgp4 and restricted to a C. trachomatis macrophage-tropic strain. These findings are important because they define a previously unknown role for the plasmid in the pathophysiology of invasive chlamydial infection.
Project description:An outbreak of lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV) infections has recently been reported from The Netherlands and other European countries. The Swedish surveillance system has identified three LGV cases since 2004, all with clinically suspected infection in men who have sex with men (MSM). In order to assess the prevalence of LGV in a high-risk group of MSM and include clinically atypical cases, retrospective analysis of 197 Chlamydia trachomatis-infected men was performed. Sequencing of the ompA gene showed a different serotype distribution compared to recent Swedish studies in heterosexual populations. The most common types were G (45%), D (27%), and J (26%), whereas the normally predominant type E accounted for only 4% of the chlamydia cases. Furthermore, certain ompA genotype variants of the dominant serotypes were highly prevalent among MSM, and the reason for this is discussed. No additional case of LGV was detected by retrospective analysis of the high-risk MSM population. This indicates that, thus far, LGV in Sweden is only a result of sporadic import from infected MSM clusters abroad.
Project description:We traced the Chlamydia trachomatis L2b variant in Amsterdam and San Francisco. All recent lymphogranuloma venereum cases in Amsterdam were caused by the L2b variant. This variant was also present in the 1980s in San Francisco. Thus, the current "outbreak" is most likely a slowly evolving epidemic.
Project description:Nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) are recommended by the CDC for detection of Chlamydia trachomatis (Ct) urogenital infections. Current commercial NAATs require technical expertise and sophisticated laboratory infrastructure, are time-consuming and expensive, and do not differentiate the lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV) strains that require a longer duration of treatment than non-LGV strains. The multiplexed microfluidic PCR-based assay presented in this work simultaneously interrogates 13 loci to detect Ct and identify LGV and non-LGV strain-types. Based on amplified fragment length polymorphisms, the assay differentiates LGV, ocular, urogenital, and proctocolitis clades, and also serovars L1, L2, and L3 within the LGV group. The assay was evaluated in a blinded fashion using 95 clinical swabs, with 76 previously reported as urogenital Ct-positive samples and typed by ompA genotyping and/or Multi-Locus Sequence Typing. Results of the 13-plex assay showed that 51 samples fell within urogenital clade 2 or 4, 24 samples showed both clade 2 and 4 signatures, indicating possible mixed infection, gene rearrangement, or inter-clade recombination, and one sample was a noninvasive trachoma biovar (either a clade 3 or 4). The remaining 19 blinded samples were correctly identified as LGV clade 1 (3), ocular clade 3 (4), or as negatives (12). To date, no NAAT assay can provide a point-of-care applicable turnaround time for Ct detection while identifying clinically significant Ct strain types to inform appropriate treatment. Coupled with rapid DNA processing of clinical swabs (approximately 60 minutes from swab-in to result-out), the assay has significant potential as a rapid POC diagnostic for Ct infections.