Rapidly growing, non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) in the Mycobacterium abscessus (MAB) species are emerging pathogens that cause various diseases including skin and respiratory infections. The species has undergone recent taxonomic nomenclature refinement, and is currently recognized as two subspecies, M. abscessus subsp. abscessus (MAB-A) and M. abscessus subsp. bolletii (MAB-B). The recently reported outbreaks of MAB-B in surgical patients in Brazil from 2004 to 2009 and in cystic fibrosis patients in the United Kingdom (UK) in 2006 to 2012 underscore the need to investigate the genetic diversity of clinical MAB strains. To this end, we sequenced the genomes of two Brazilian MAB-B epidemic isolates (CRM-0019 and CRM-0020) derived from an outbreak of skin infections in Rio de Janeiro, two unrelated MAB strains from patients with pulmonary infections in the United States (US) (NJH8 and NJH11) and one type MAB-B strain (CCUG 48898) and compared them to 25 publically available genomes of globally diverse MAB strains. Genome-wide analyses of 27,598 core genome single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) revealed that the two Brazilian derived CRM strains are nearly indistinguishable from one another and are more closely related to UK outbreak isolates infecting CF patients than to strains from the US, Malaysia or France. Comparative genomic analyses of six closely related outbreak strains revealed geographic-specific large-scale insertion/deletion variation that corresponds to bacteriophage insertions and recombination hotspots. Our study integrates new genome sequence data with existing genomic information to explore the global diversity of infectious M. abscessus isolates and to compare clinically relevant outbreak strains from different continents.
Keywords: Bioinformatics; CF; Comparative genomics; MAB; MAB-A; MAB-B; Mycobacterium abscessus; Mycobacterium abscessus subsp. abscessus; Mycobacterium abscessus subsp. bolletii; NTM; Nontuberculous mycobacteria; PFGE; SNP; cystic fibrosis; indel; insertion/deletion; pulse-field gel electrophoresis; single nucleotide polymorphism.
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