Genomic analysis of the emergence of drug-resistant strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in the Middle East

Sci Rep. 2019 Mar 14;9(1):4474. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-41162-9.


Tuberculosis (TB) represents a significant challenge to public health authorities, especially with the emergence of drug-resistant (DR) and multidrug-resistant (MDR) isolates of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. We sought to examine the genomic variations among recently isolated strains of M. tuberculosis in two closely related countries with different population demography in the Middle East. Clinical isolates of M. tuberculosis from both Egypt and Saudi Arabia were subjected to phenotypic and genotypic analysis on gene and genome-wide levels. Isolates with MDR phenotypes were highly prevalent in Egypt (up to 35%) despite its relatively stable population structure (sympatric pattern). MDR-TB isolates were not identified in the isolates from Saudi Arabia despite its active guest worker program (allopatric pattern). However, tuberculosis isolates from Saudi Arabia, where lineage 4 was more prevalent (>65%), showed more diversity than isolates from Egypt, where lineage 3 was the most prevalent (>75%). Phylogenetic and molecular dating analyses indicated that lineages from Egypt were recently diverged (~78 years), whereas those from Saudi Arabia were diverged by over 200 years. Interestingly, DR isolates did not appear to cluster together or spread more widely than drug-sensitive isolates, suggesting poor treatment as the main cause for emergence of drug resistance rather than more virulence or more capacity to persist.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial*
  • Egypt / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / classification*
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / genetics
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / isolation & purification
  • Phylogeny
  • Prevalence
  • Saudi Arabia / epidemiology
  • Tuberculosis, Multidrug-Resistant / epidemiology*
  • Tuberculosis, Multidrug-Resistant / microbiology
  • Whole Genome Sequencing / methods*
  • Young Adult