Whole-Genome Sequencing to Identify Missed Rifampicin and Isoniazid Resistance Among Tuberculosis Isolates-Chennai, India, 2013-2016

Front Microbiol. 2021 Nov 22;12:720436. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2021.720436. eCollection 2021.


India has a high burden of drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR TB) and many cases go undetected by current drug susceptibility tests (DSTs). This study was conducted to identify rifampicin (RIF) and isoniazid (INH) resistance associated genetic mutations undetected by current clinical diagnostics amongst persons with DR TB in Chennai, India. Retrospectively stored 166 DR TB isolates during 2013-2016 were retrieved and cultured in Löwenstein-Jensen medium. Whole genome sequencing (WGS) and MGIT DST for RIF and INH were performed. Discordant genotypic and phenotypic sensitivity results were repeated for confirmation and the discrepant results considered final. Further, drug resistance-conferring mutations identified through WGS were analyzed for their presence as targets in current WHO-recommended molecular diagnostics. WGS detected additional mutations for rifampicin and isoniazid resistance than WHO-endorsed line probe assays. For RIF, WGS was able to identify an additional 10% (15/146) of rpoB mutant isolates associated with borderline rifampicin resistance compared to MGIT DST. WGS could detect additional DR TB cases than commercially available and WHO-endorsed molecular DST tests. WGS results reiterate the importance of the recent WHO revised critical concentrations of current MGIT DST to detect low-level resistance to rifampicin. WGS may help inform effective treatment selection for persons at risk of, or diagnosed with, DR TB.

Keywords: DR TB; drug susceptibility testing; genetic mutations; line probe assay; whole genome sequencing.