Reis, A.C. & Cunha, M.V. (2021) The open pan-genome architecture and virulence landscape of Mycobacterium bovis.Microbial Genomics, 7, 664. DOI:10.1099/mgen.0.000664 (IF2020 5,237; Q1 Genetics & Heredity)
Animal tuberculosis (TB) is an emergent disease caused by Mycobacterium bovis , one of the animal-adapted ecotypes of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTC). In this work, whole-genome comparative analyses of 70 M . bovis were performed to gain insights into the pan-genome architecture. The comparison across M. bovis predicted genome composition enabled clustering into the core- and accessory-genome components, with 2736 CDS for the former, while the accessory moiety included 3897 CDS, of which 2656 are restricted to one/two genomes only. These analyses predicted an open pan-genome architecture, with an average of 32 CDS added by each genome and show the diversification of discrete M. bovis subpopulations supported by both core- and accessory-genome components. The functional annotation of the pan-genome classified each CDS into one or several COG (Clusters of Orthologous Groups) categories, revealing ‘transcription’ (total average CDSs, n=258), ‘lipid metabolism and transport’ (n=242), ‘energy production and conversion’ (n=214) and ‘unknown function’ (n=876) as the most represented. The closer analysis of polymorphisms in virulence-related genes in a restrict group of M. bovis from a multi-host system enabled the identification of clade-monomorphic non-synonymous SNPs, illustrating clade-specific virulence landscapes and correlating with disease severity. This first comparative pan-genome study of a diverse collection of M. bovis encompassing all clonal complexes indicates a high percentage of accessory genes and denotes an open, dynamic non-conservative pan-genome structure, with high evolutionary potential, defying the canons of MTC biology. Furthermore, it shows that M. bovis can shape its virulence repertoire, either by acquisition and loss of genes or by SNP-based diversification, likely towards host immune evasion, adaptation and persistence.