Biochemistry and Pharmacology - Research Publications

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    Genomic dissection of Klebsiella pneumoniae infections in hospital patients reveals insights into an opportunistic pathogen
    Gorrie, CL ; Mirceta, M ; Wick, RR ; Judd, LM ; Lam, MMC ; Gomi, R ; Abbott, IJ ; Thomson, NR ; Strugnell, RA ; Pratt, NF ; Garlick, JS ; Watson, KM ; Hunter, PC ; Pilcher, DV ; McGloughlin, SA ; Spelman, DW ; Wyres, KL ; Jenney, AWJ ; Holt, KE (NATURE PORTFOLIO, 2022-05-31)
    Klebsiella pneumoniae is a major cause of opportunistic healthcare-associated infections, which are increasingly complicated by the presence of extended-spectrum beta-lactamases (ESBLs) and carbapenem resistance. We conducted a year-long prospective surveillance study of K. pneumoniae clinical isolates in hospital patients. Whole-genome sequence (WGS) data reveals a diverse pathogen population, including other species within the K. pneumoniae species complex (18%). Several infections were caused by K. variicola/K. pneumoniae hybrids, one of which shows evidence of nosocomial transmission. A wide range of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) phenotypes are observed, and diverse genetic mechanisms identified (mainly plasmid-borne genes). ESBLs are correlated with presence of other acquired AMR genes (median n = 10). Bacterial genomic features associated with nosocomial onset are ESBLs (OR 2.34, p = 0.015) and rhamnose-positive capsules (OR 3.12, p < 0.001). Virulence plasmid-encoded features (aerobactin, hypermucoidy) are observed at low-prevalence (<3%), mostly in community-onset cases. WGS-confirmed nosocomial transmission is implicated in just 10% of cases, but strongly associated with ESBLs (OR 21, p < 1 × 10-11). We estimate 28% risk of onward nosocomial transmission for ESBL-positive strains vs 1.7% for ESBL-negative strains. These data indicate that K. pneumoniae infections in hospitalised patients are due largely to opportunistic infections with diverse strains, with an additional burden from nosocomially-transmitted AMR strains and community-acquired hypervirulent strains.
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    Kaptive 2.0: updated capsule and lipopolysaccharide locus typing for the Klebsiella pneumoniae species complex
    Lam, MMC ; Wick, RR ; Judd, LM ; Holt, KE ; Wyres, KL (MICROBIOLOGY SOC, 2022-03-01)
    The outer polysaccharide capsule and lipopolysaccharide (LPS) antigens are key targets for novel control strategies targeting Klebsiella pneumoniae and related taxa from the K. pneumoniae species complex (KpSC), including vaccines, phage and monoclonal antibody therapies. Given the importance and growing interest in these highly diverse surface antigens, we had previously developed Kaptive, a tool for rapidly identifying and typing capsule (K) and outer LPS (O) loci from whole genome sequence data. Here, we report two significant updates, now freely available in Kaptive 2.0 (https://github.com/katholt/kaptive): (i) the addition of 16 novel K locus sequences to the K locus reference database following an extensive search of >17 000 KpSC genomes; and (ii) enhanced O locus typing to enable prediction of the clinically relevant O2 antigen (sub)types, for which the genetic determinants have been recently described. We applied Kaptive 2.0 to a curated dataset of >12 000 public KpSC genomes to explore for the first time, to the best of our knowledge, the distribution of predicted O (sub)types across species, sampling niches and clones, which highlighted key differences in the distributions that warrant further investigation. As the uptake of genomic surveillance approaches continues to expand globally, the application of Kaptive 2.0 will generate novel insights essential for the design of effective KpSC control strategies.
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    Linear plasmids in Klebsiella and other Enterobacteriaceae
    Hawkey, J ; Cottingham, H ; Tokolyi, A ; Wick, RR ; Judd, LM ; Cerdeira, L ; Garcia, DDO ; Wyres, KL ; Holt, KE (MICROBIOLOGY SOC, 2022-04-01)
    Linear plasmids are extrachromosomal DNA elements that have been found in a small number of bacterial species. To date, the only linear plasmids described in the family Enterobacteriaceae belong to Salmonella, first found in Salmonella enterica Typhi. Here, we describe a collection of 12 isolates of the Klebsiella pneumoniae species complex in which we identified linear plasmids. Screening of assembly graphs assembled from public read sets identified linear plasmid structures in a further 13 K. pneumoniae species complex genomes. We used these 25 linear plasmid sequences to query all bacterial genome assemblies in the National Center for Biotechnology Information database, and discovered an additional 61 linear plasmid sequences in a variety of Enterobacteriaceae species. Gene content analysis divided these plasmids into five distinct phylogroups, with very few genes shared across more than two phylogroups. The majority of linear plasmid-encoded genes are of unknown function; however, each phylogroup carried its own unique toxin-antitoxin system and genes with homology to those encoding the ParAB plasmid stability system. Passage in vitro of the 12 linear plasmid-carrying Klebsiella isolates in our collection (which include representatives of all five phylogroups) indicated that these linear plasmids can be stably maintained, and our data suggest they can transmit between K. pneumoniae strains (including members of globally disseminated multidrug-resistant clones) and also between diverse Enterobacteriaceae species. The linear plasmid sequences, and representative isolates harbouring them, are made available as a resource to facilitate future studies on the evolution and function of these novel plasmids.
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    A curated collection of Klebsiella metabolic models reveals variable substrate usage and gene essentiality
    Hawkey, J ; Vezina, B ; Monk, JM ; Judd, LM ; Harshegyi, T ; Lopez-Fernandez, S ; Rodrigues, C ; Brisse, S ; Holt, KE ; Wyres, KL (COLD SPRING HARBOR LAB PRESS, PUBLICATIONS DEPT, 2022-05-01)
    The Klebsiella pneumoniae species complex (KpSC) is a set of seven Klebsiella taxa that are found in a variety of niches and are an important cause of opportunistic health care-associated infections in humans. Because of increasing rates of multi-drug resistance within the KpSC, there is a growing interest in better understanding the biology and metabolism of these organisms to inform novel control strategies. We collated 37 sequenced KpSC isolates isolated from a variety of niches, representing all seven taxa. We generated strain-specific genome-scale metabolic models (GEMs) for all 37 isolates and simulated growth phenotypes on 511 distinct carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, and phosphorus substrates. Models were curated and their accuracy was assessed using matched phenotypic growth data for 94 substrates (median accuracy of 96%). We explored species-specific growth capabilities and examined the impact of all possible single gene deletions using growth simulations in 145 core carbon substrates. These analyses revealed multiple strain-specific differences, within and between species, and highlight the importance of selecting a diverse range of strains when exploring KpSC metabolism. This diverse set of highly accurate GEMs could be used to inform novel drug design, enhance genomic analyses, and identify novel virulence and resistance determinants. We envisage that these 37 curated strain-specific GEMs, covering all seven taxa of the KpSC, provide a valuable resource to the Klebsiella research community.
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    Klebsiella pneumoniae with capsule type K64 is overrepresented among invasive disease in Vietnam
    Vu Thi Ngoc, B ; Brisse, S ; Dao Tuyet, T ; Vu Tien Viet, D ; Holt, KE ; Nguyen Vu, T ; Tran Thi Kieu, H ; Nguyen Thi Ngoc, D ; van Doorn, HR ; Wertheim, HFL (F1000 Research Ltd, 2021-06-08)
    Introduction: Recent reports indicate the emergence of community-acquired pneumonia associated with K64-Klebsiella pneumoniae. Here, we identify the capsular types and sequence type of invasive and commensal K. pneumoniae isolates from Vietnam. Methods: We included 93 K. pneumoniae isolates from patients hospitalized at the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases, Hanoi between 2007 and 2011; and 110 commensal isolates from throat swabs from healthy volunteers living in rural and urban Hanoi in 2012. We determined sequence types (STs) by multi-locus sequence typing (MLST) and capsule typing for seven K types by PCR. Antibiotic susceptibility testing was performed using disk diffusion. Results: The most common detected capsule types were K1 (39/203, 19.2%, mainly ST23) and K2 (31/203, 15.3%, multiple STs: ST65, ST86, ST380). We found significantly more K2 isolates among invasive in comparison to commensal isolates (22.6% vs 9%, p = 0.01) but no significant difference was observed between invasive and commensal K1 isolates (14.5% vs 24.7%, p = 0.075). K64 with varying sequence types were predominantly seen among invasive K. pneumoniae (8 vs. 3) and were isolated from sepsis and meningitis patients. Among K64 isolates, one was carbapenem-resistant with ST799. Conclusion: Our study confirms that capsule type K64 K. pneumoniae is associated with community-acquired invasive infections in Vietnam. Research is needed to unravel the mechanisms of virulence of capsule type K64 in both community and hospital settings.
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    Whole genome sequence analysis of Salmonella Typhi in Papua New Guinea reveals an established population of genotype 2.1.7 sensitive to antimicrobials
    Dyson, ZA ; Malau, E ; Horwood, PF ; Ford, R ; Siba, V ; Yoannes, M ; Pomat, W ; Passey, M ; Judd, LM ; Ingle, DJ ; Williamson, DA ; Dougan, G ; Greenhill, AR ; Holt, KE ; Senok, A (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2022-03-01)
    BACKGROUND: Typhoid fever, a systemic infection caused by Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi, remains a considerable public health threat in impoverished regions within many low- and middle-income settings. However, we still lack a detailed understanding of the emergence, population structure, molecular mechanisms of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), and transmission dynamics of S. Typhi across many settings, particularly throughout the Asia-Pacific islands. Here we present a comprehensive whole genome sequence (WGS) based overview of S. Typhi populations circulating in Papua New Guinea (PNG) over 30 years. PRINCIPLE FINDINGS: Bioinformatic analysis of 86 S. Typhi isolates collected between 1980-2010 demonstrated that the population structure of PNG is dominated by a single genotype (2.1.7) that appears to have emerged in the Indonesian archipelago in the mid-twentieth century with minimal evidence of inter-country transmission. Genotypic and phenotypic data demonstrated that the PNG S. Typhi population appears to be susceptible to former first line drugs for treating typhoid fever (chloramphenicol, ampicillin and co-trimoxazole), as well as fluoroquinolones, third generation cephalosporins, and macrolides. PNG genotype 2.1.7 was genetically conserved, with very few deletions, and no evidence of plasmid or prophage acquisition. Genetic variation among this population was attributed to either single point mutations, or homologous recombination adjacent to repetitive ribosomal RNA operons. SIGNIFICANCE: Antimicrobials remain an effective option for the treatment of typhoid fever in PNG, along with other intervention strategies including improvements to water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) related infrastructure and potentially the introduction of Vi-conjugate vaccines. However, continued genomic surveillance is warranted to monitor for the emergence of AMR within local populations, or the introduction of AMR associated genotypes of S. Typhi in this setting.
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    Rapid Whole Genome Sequencing of Serotype K1 Hypervirulent Klebsiella pneumoniae from an Undocumented Chinese Migrant.
    Macleod, CK ; Khokhar, FA ; Warne, B ; Wick, R ; Butcher, R ; Cassimon, B ; Hayden, P ; Holt, K ; Török, ME ; Majumder, S (Hindawi Limited, 2021)
    BACKGROUND: Hypervirulent Klebsiella pneumoniae causes severe disseminated infections, typically with hepatic and central nervous system involvement including endophthalmitis. Case Presentation. We report a fatal case of an undocumented Chinese migrant in her 60s who presented to the emergency department with abdominal pain, lethargy, and headache over the preceding two weeks. She had a new diagnosis of diabetes mellitus on admission. Computed tomography scan of the thorax, abdomen, and pelvis showed bilateral pneumonia with liver abscesses. The patient was treated with empirical broad-spectrum antibiotics before K. pneumoniae was isolated from cerebrospinal fluid and blood cultures. The isolate was further characterised as a ST23 (ST: sequence type), serotype K1 hypervirulent strain using Nanopore sequencing. Despite admission to the intensive care unit, the patient died within 48 hrs of admission. CONCLUSIONS: This case demonstrates the need for increased awareness of hypervirulent K. pneumoniae, even in countries where it occurs infrequently. Novel, rapid, sequencing technologies can support diagnosis in unusual presentations.
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    Context-aware genomic surveillance reveals hidden transmission of a carbapenemase-producing Klebsiella pneumoniae.
    Viehweger, A ; Blumenscheit, C ; Lippmann, N ; Wyres, KL ; Brandt, C ; Hans, JB ; Hölzer, M ; Irber, L ; Gatermann, S ; Lübbert, C ; Pletz, MW ; Holt, KE ; König, B (Microbiology Society, 2021-12)
    Genomic surveillance can inform effective public health responses to pathogen outbreaks. However, integration of non-local data is rarely done. We investigate two large hospital outbreaks of a carbapenemase-carrying Klebsiella pneumoniae strain in Germany and show the value of contextual data. By screening about 10 000 genomes, over 400 000 metagenomes and two culture collections using in silico and in vitro methods, we identify a total of 415 closely related genomes reported in 28 studies. We identify the relationship between the two outbreaks through time-dated phylogeny, including their respective origin. One of the outbreaks presents extensive hidden transmission, with descendant isolates only identified in other studies. We then leverage the genome collection from this meta-analysis to identify genes under positive selection. We thereby identify an inner membrane transporter (ynjC) with a putative role in colistin resistance. Contextual data from other sources can thus enhance local genomic surveillance at multiple levels and should be integrated by default when available.
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    Polypolish: Short-read polishing of long-read bacterial genome assemblies.
    Wick, RR ; Holt, KE ; Schneidman-Duhovny, D (Public Library of Science (PLoS), 2022-01)
    Long-read-only bacterial genome assemblies usually contain residual errors, most commonly homopolymer-length errors. Short-read polishing tools can use short reads to fix these errors, but most rely on short-read alignment which is unreliable in repeat regions. Errors in such regions are therefore challenging to fix and often remain after short-read polishing. Here we introduce Polypolish, a new short-read polisher which uses all-per-read alignments to repair errors in repeat sequences that other polishers cannot. Polypolish performed well in benchmarking tests using both simulated and real reads, and it almost never introduced errors during polishing. The best results were achieved by using Polypolish in combination with other short-read polishers.
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    A nationwide genomic study of clinical Klebsiella pneumoniae in Norway 2001-15: introduction and spread of ESBLs facilitated by clonal groups CG15 and CG307
    Fostervold, A ; Hetland, MAK ; Bakksjo, R ; Bernhoff, E ; Holt, KE ; Samuelsen, O ; Simonsen, GS ; Sundsfjord, A ; Wyres, KL ; Lohr, IH (OXFORD UNIV PRESS, 2021-12-22)
    OBJECTIVES: To use the nationwide Norwegian surveillance programme on resistant microbes in humans (NORM) to address longitudinal changes in the population structure of Klebsiella pneumoniae isolates from 2001-15, focusing on the emergence and dissemination of ESBL-producing K. pneumoniae in Norway. METHODS: Among blood (n = 6124) and urinary tract (n = 5496) surveillance isolates from 2001-15, we used Illumina technology to whole genome sequence 201 ESBL-producing isolates from blood (n = 130) and urine (n = 71), and 667 non-ESBL isolates from blood. Complete genomes for four isolates were resolved with Oxford Nanopore sequencing. RESULTS: In a highly diverse collection, Klebsiella variicola ssp. variicola caused 24.5% of Klebsiella pneumoniae species complex (KpSC) bacteraemias. ESBL production was limited to K. pneumoniae sensu stricto (98.5%). A diverse ESBL population of 57 clonal groups (CGs) were dominated by MDR CG307 (17%), CG15 (12%), CG70 (6%), CG258 (5%) and CG45 (5%) carrying blaCTX-M-15. Yersiniabactin was significantly more common in ESBL-positive (37.8%) compared with non-ESBL K. pneumoniae sensu stricto isolates (12.7%), indicating convergence of virulence and resistance determinants. Moreover, we found a significantly lower prevalence of yersiniabactin (3.0%, 37.8% and 17.3%), IncFIB (58.7%, 87.9% and 79.4%) and IncFII plasmid replicons (40.5%, 82.8% and 54.2%) in K. variicola ssp. variicola compared with ESBL- and non-ESBL K. pneumoniae sensu stricto isolates, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: The increase in Norwegian ESBL-producing KpSC during 2010-15 was driven by CG307 and CG15 carrying blaCTX-M-15. K. variicola ssp. variicola was a frequent cause of invasive KpSC infection, but rarely carried ESBLs.