Comparative analysis of the genomes of clinical isolates ofMycobacterium aviumsubsp.hominissuisregarding virulence-related genes

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Mycobacterium avium subsp. hominissuis is a member of the M. avium complex, a heterogeneous group of bacteria that cause lung infection in immunocompetent patients or disseminated infection in patients with immunosuppression. The bacteria belonging to this complex have variable virulence, depending on the strain considered, and therefore a representative of the most common clinical phenotype was analysed.


The genomic sequences of four M. avium subsp. hominissuis isolates obtained from clinical specimens were completed. Mav101, Mav100 and MavA5 were isolated from the blood of patients with AIDS. MavA5 was disseminated from the lung, while Mav3388 was isolated from the lungs of a patient with chronic lung disease. The sequences were annotated using the published Mav104 genome as a blueprint. Functional and virulence analyses of the sequences were carried out. Mice studies comparing the virulence of the strains were performed.


Findings showed that while Mav101 was very similar to Mav104, there were numerous differences between Mav104 and the remaining strains at nucleotide and predicted protein levels. The presence of genes associated with biofilm formation and several known virulence-related genes were sometimes differentially present among the isolates, suggesting overlapping functions by different genetic determinants.


The sequences provided important information about M. avium heterogenicity and evolution as a pathogen. The limitation is the lack of understanding on possible overlapping functions of genes/proteins.

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