Comparative "-omics" in Mycoplasma pneumoniae Clinical Isolates Reveals Key Virulence Factors

PLoS One. 2015 Sep 3;10(9):e0137354. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0137354. eCollection 2015.


The human respiratory tract pathogen M. pneumoniae is one of the best characterized minimal bacterium. Until now, two main groups of clinical isolates of this bacterium have been described (types 1 and 2), differing in the sequence of the P1 adhesin gene. Here, we have sequenced the genomes of 23 clinical isolates of M. pneumoniae. Studying SNPs, non-synonymous mutations, indels and genome rearrangements of these 23 strains and 4 previously sequenced ones, has revealed new subclasses in the two main groups, some of them being associated with the country of isolation. Integrative analysis of in vitro gene essentiality and mutation rates enabled the identification of several putative virulence factors and antigenic proteins; revealing recombination machinery, glycerol metabolism and peroxide production as possible factors in the genetics and physiology of these pathogenic strains. Additionally, the transcriptomes and proteomes of two representative strains, one from each of the two main groups, have been characterized to evaluate the impact of mutations on RNA and proteins levels. This study has revealed that type 2 strains show higher expression levels of CARDS toxin, a protein recently shown to be one of the major factors of inflammation. Thus, we propose that type 2 strains could be more toxigenic than type 1 strains of M. pneumoniae.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adhesins, Bacterial / genetics
  • Antigenic Variation / genetics
  • Antigens, Bacterial / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Toxins / biosynthesis
  • Bacterial Toxins / genetics
  • Base Sequence
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Genome, Bacterial*
  • Humans
  • INDEL Mutation
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation
  • Mycoplasma pneumoniae / classification
  • Mycoplasma pneumoniae / genetics
  • Mycoplasma pneumoniae / isolation & purification
  • Mycoplasma pneumoniae / pathogenicity*
  • Open Reading Frames
  • Pneumonia, Mycoplasma / epidemiology
  • Pneumonia, Mycoplasma / microbiology
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Proteome
  • Transcriptome
  • Tunisia / epidemiology
  • Virulence / genetics


  • Adhesins, Bacterial
  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Bacterial Toxins
  • CARDS toxin, Mycoplasma pneumoniae
  • Proteome
  • adhesin, Mycoplasma pneumoniae

Grants and funding

This work was supported by the European Research Council (ERC). This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No 634942.