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Strain-Resolved Dynamics of the Lung Microbiome in Patients with Cystic Fibrosis


Dmitrijeva, Marija; Kahlert, Christian R; Feigelman, Rounak; Kleiner, Rebekka L; Nolte, Oliver; Albrich, Werner C; Baty, Florent; von Mering, Christian (2021). Strain-Resolved Dynamics of the Lung Microbiome in Patients with Cystic Fibrosis. mBio, 12(2):Epub ahead of print.

Abstract

In cystic fibrosis, dynamic and complex communities of microbial pathogens and commensals can colonize the lung. Cultured isolates from lung sputum reveal high inter- and intraindividual variability in pathogen strains, sequence variants, and phenotypes; disease progression likely depends on the precise combination of infecting lineages. Routine clinical protocols, however, provide a limited overview of the colonizer populations. Therefore, a more comprehensive and precise identification and characterization of infecting lineages could assist in making corresponding decisions on treatment. Here, we describe longitudinal tracking for four cystic fibrosis patients who exhibited extreme clinical phenotypes and, thus, were selected from a pilot cohort of 11 patients with repeated sampling for more than a year. Following metagenomics sequencing of lung sputum, we find that the taxonomic identity of individual colonizer lineages can be easily established. Crucially, even superficially clonal pathogens can be subdivided into multiple sublineages at the sequence level. By tracking individual allelic differences over time, an assembly-free clustering approach allows us to reconstruct multiple lineage-specific genomes with clear structural differences. Our study showcases a culture-independent shotgun metagenomics approach for longitudinal tracking of sublineage pathogen dynamics, opening up the possibility of using such methods to assist in monitoring disease progression through providing high-resolution routine characterization of the cystic fibrosis lung microbiome.
IMPORTANCE Cystic fibrosis patients frequently suffer from recurring respiratory infections caused by colonizing pathogenic and commensal bacteria. Although modern therapies can sometimes alleviate respiratory symptoms by ameliorating residual function of the protein responsible for the disorder, management of chronic respiratory infections remains an issue. Here, we propose a minimally invasive and culture-independent method to monitor microbial lung content in patients with cystic fibrosis at minimal additional effort on the patient’s part. Through repeated sampling and metagenomics sequencing of our selected cystic fibrosis patients, we successfully classify infecting bacterial lineages and deconvolute multiple lineage variants of the same species within a given patient. This study explores the application of modern computational methods for deconvoluting lineages in the cystic fibrosis lung microbiome, an environment known to be inhabited by a heterogeneous pathogen population that complicates management of the disorder.

Abstract

In cystic fibrosis, dynamic and complex communities of microbial pathogens and commensals can colonize the lung. Cultured isolates from lung sputum reveal high inter- and intraindividual variability in pathogen strains, sequence variants, and phenotypes; disease progression likely depends on the precise combination of infecting lineages. Routine clinical protocols, however, provide a limited overview of the colonizer populations. Therefore, a more comprehensive and precise identification and characterization of infecting lineages could assist in making corresponding decisions on treatment. Here, we describe longitudinal tracking for four cystic fibrosis patients who exhibited extreme clinical phenotypes and, thus, were selected from a pilot cohort of 11 patients with repeated sampling for more than a year. Following metagenomics sequencing of lung sputum, we find that the taxonomic identity of individual colonizer lineages can be easily established. Crucially, even superficially clonal pathogens can be subdivided into multiple sublineages at the sequence level. By tracking individual allelic differences over time, an assembly-free clustering approach allows us to reconstruct multiple lineage-specific genomes with clear structural differences. Our study showcases a culture-independent shotgun metagenomics approach for longitudinal tracking of sublineage pathogen dynamics, opening up the possibility of using such methods to assist in monitoring disease progression through providing high-resolution routine characterization of the cystic fibrosis lung microbiome.
IMPORTANCE Cystic fibrosis patients frequently suffer from recurring respiratory infections caused by colonizing pathogenic and commensal bacteria. Although modern therapies can sometimes alleviate respiratory symptoms by ameliorating residual function of the protein responsible for the disorder, management of chronic respiratory infections remains an issue. Here, we propose a minimally invasive and culture-independent method to monitor microbial lung content in patients with cystic fibrosis at minimal additional effort on the patient’s part. Through repeated sampling and metagenomics sequencing of our selected cystic fibrosis patients, we successfully classify infecting bacterial lineages and deconvolute multiple lineage variants of the same species within a given patient. This study explores the application of modern computational methods for deconvoluting lineages in the cystic fibrosis lung microbiome, an environment known to be inhabited by a heterogeneous pathogen population that complicates management of the disorder.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Molecular Life Sciences
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > Microbiology
Life Sciences > Virology
Language:English
Date:9 March 2021
Deposited On:11 May 2021 12:00
Last Modified:11 Jul 2021 08:01
Publisher:American Society for Microbiology
ISSN:2150-7511
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1128/mBio.02863-20
PubMed ID:33688005
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID31003A_160095
  • : Project TitleThe Microbial Species Problem: a Data-driven, Operational Approach

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