Summary TubercuList ( http://tuberculist.epfl.ch/ ), the relational database that presents genome-derived information about H37Rv, the paradigm strain of Mycobacterium tuberculosis , has been active for ten years and now presents its twentieth release. Here, we describe some of the recent changes that have resulted from manual annotation with information from the scientific literature. Through manual curation, TubercuList strives to provide current gene-based information and is thus distinguished from other online sources of genome sequence data for M. tuberculosis . New, mostly small, genes have been discovered and the coordinates of some existing coding sequences have been changed when bioinformatics or experimental data suggest that this is required. Nucleotides that are polymorphic between different sources of H37Rv are annotated and gene essentiality data have been updated. A host of functional information has been gleaned from the literature and many new activities of proteins and RNAs have been included. To facilitate basic and translational research, TubercuList also provides links to other specialized databases that present diverse datasets such as 3D-structures, expression profiles, drug development criteria and drug resistance information, in addition to direct access to PubMed articles pertinent to particular genes. TubercuList has been and remains a highly valuable tool for the tuberculosis research community with >75,000 visitors per month.
Summary There is an urgent need for the discovery and development of new antitubercular agents that target new biochemical pathways and treat drug resistant forms of the disease. One approach to addressing this need is through high-throughput screening of medicinally relevant libraries against the whole bacterium in order to discover a variety of new, active scaffolds that will stimulate new biological research and drug discovery. Through the Tuberculosis Antimicrobial Acquisition and Coordinating Facility ( www.taacf.org ), a large, medicinally relevant chemical library was screened against M. tuberculosis strain H37Rv. The screening methods and a medicinal chemistry analysis of the results are reported herein.
Summary Background Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in breath may contain biomarkers of active pulmonary tuberculosis derived from the infectious organism (metabolites of Mycobacterium tuberculosis) and from the infected host (products of oxidative stress). Methods We analyzed breath VOCs in 226 symptomatic high-risk patients in USA, Philippines, and UK, using gas chromatography/mass spectroscopy. Diagnosis of disease was based on sputum culture, smear microscopy, chest radiography and clinical suspicion of tuberculosis (CSTB). Chromatograms were converted to a series of 8 s overlapping time slices. Biomarkers of active pulmonary tuberculosis were identified with a Monte Carlo analysis of time-slice alveolar gradients (abundance in breath minus abundance in room air). Results Breath VOCs contained apparent biomarkers of active pulmonary tuberculosis comprising oxidative stress products (alkanes and alkane derivatives) and volatile metabolites of M. tuberculosis (cyclohexane and benzene derivatives). Breath biomarkers identified active pulmonary tuberculosis with C-statistic (area under curve of receiver operating characteristic) = 0.85 (i.e. 85% overall accuracy, sensitivity = 84.0%, specificity = 64.7%) when sputum culture, microscopy, and chest radiography were either all positive or all negative. Employing a single criterion of disease, C-statistic = 0.76 (smear microscopy), 0.68 (sputum culture), 0.66 (chest radiography) and 0.65 (CSTB). Conclusion A breath test identified apparent biomarkers of active pulmonary tuberculosis with 85% accuracy in symptomatic high-risk subjects.
The QuantiFERON-TB Gold Plus (QFT-Plus) represents the new QuantiFERON-TB Gold In-tube (QFT-GIT) to identify latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI). The main differences is the addition of a new tube containing shorter peptides stimulating CD8 T-cells. Aim of this study is to evaluate the accuracy of QFT-Plus compared with QFT-GIT in a cross sectional study of individuals with or without tuberculosis (TB). We enrolled 179 participants: 19 healthy donors, 58 LTBI, 33 cured TB and 69 active TB. QFT-Plus and QFT-GIT were performed. The two tests showed a substantial agreement. Moreover we found a similar sensitivity in active TB and same specificity in healthy donors. A higher proportion of the LTBI subjects responded to both TB1 and TB2 compared to those with active TB (97% vs 81%). Moreover, a selective response to TB2 was associated with active TB (9%) and with a severe TB disease, suggesting that TB2 stimulation induces a CD8 T-cell response in absence of a CD4-response. In conclusion, QFT-Plus and QFT-GIT assays showed a substantial agreement and similar accuracy for active TB detection. Interestingly, a higher proportion of the LTBI subjects responded concomitantly to TB1 and TB2 compared to those with active TB, whereas a selective TB2 response associated with active TB.
Summary It is set in stone that Mycobacterium tuberculosis is a facultative intracellular bacterial parasite. This axiom drives our knowledge of the host response, the way we design vaccines against the organism by generating protective T cells, and to a lesser extent, the way we try to target anti-microbial drugs. The purpose of this article is to commit total heresy. I believe that M. tuberculosis can equally well be regarded as an extracellular pathogen and may in fact spend a large percentage of its human lung “life-cycle” in this environment. It is of course intracellular as well, but this may well be little more than a brief interlude after infection of a new host during which the bacterium must replicate to increase its chances of transmission and physiologically adapt prior to moving back to an extracellular phase. As a result, by focusing almost completely on just the intracellular phase, we may be making serious strategic errors in the way we try to intervene in this pathogenic process. It is my opinion that when a TB bacillus enters the lungs and starts to reside inside an alveolar macrophage, its central driving force is to switch on a process leading to lung necrosis, since it is only by this process that the local lung tissue can be destroyed and the bacillus can be exhaled and transmitted. I present here a new model of the pathogenesis of the disease that attempts to unify the pathogenic process of infection, disease, persistence [rather than latency], and reactivation.
Summary Rationale Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in breath provide biomarkers of tuberculosis (TB) because Mycobacterium tuberculosis manufactures VOC metabolites that are detectable in the breath of infected patients. Objectives We evaluated breath VOC biomarkers in subjects with active pulmonary TB, using an internet-linked rapid point-of-care breath test. Methods 279 subjects were studied at four centers in three countries, Philippines, UK, and India, and data was analyzed from 251 (130 active pulmonary TB, 121 controls). A point-of-care system collected and concentrated breath and air VOCs, and analyzed them with automated thermal desorption, gas chromatography, and surface acoustic wave detection. A breath test was completed in 6 min. Chromatograms were converted to a series of Kovats Index (KI) windows, and biomarkers of active pulmonary TB were identified by Monte Carlo analysis of KI window alveolar gradients (abundance in breath minus abundance in room air). Measurements and main results Multiple Monte Carlo simulations identified eight KI windows as biomarkers with better than random performance. Four KI windows corresponded with KI values of VOCs previously identified as biomarkers of pulmonary TB and metabolic products of M. tuberculosis , principally derivatives of naphthalene, benzene and alkanes. A multivariate predictive algorithm identified active pulmonary TB with 80% accuracy (area under curve of receiver operating characteristic curve), sensitivity = 71.2%, and specificity = 72%. Accuracy increased to 84% in age-matched subgroups. In a population with 5% prevalence, the breath test would identify active pulmonary TB with 98% negative predictive value and 13% positive predictive value. Conclusions A six-minute point-of-care breath test for volatile biomarkers accurately identified subjects with active pulmonary TB.
Biomarkers for tuberculosis treatment outcome will assist in guiding individualized treatment and evaluation of new therapies. To identify candidate biomarkers, RNA sequencing of whole blood from a well-characterized TB treatment cohort was performed. Application of a validated transcriptional correlate of risk for TB revealed symmetry in host gene expression during progression from latent TB infection to active TB disease and resolution of disease during treatment, including return to control levels after drug therapy. The symmetry was also seen in a TB disease signature, constructed from the TB treatment cohort, that also functioned as a strong correlate of risk. Both signatures identified patients at risk of treatment failure 1–4 weeks after start of therapy. Further mining of the transcriptomes revealed an association between treatment failure and suppressed expression of mitochondrial genes before treatment initiation, leading to development of a novel baseline (pre-treatment) signature of treatment failure. These novel host responses to TB treatment were integrated into a five-gene real-time PCR-based signature that captures the clinically relevant responses to TB treatment and provides a convenient platform for stratifying patients according to their risk of treatment failure. Furthermore, this 5-gene signature is shown to correlate with the pulmonary inflammatory state (as measured by PET-CT) and can complement sputum-based Gene Xpert for patient stratification, providing a rapid and accurate alternative to current methods.
Summary High-resolution three-dimensional structures of essential Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) proteins provide templates for TB drug design, but are available for only a small fraction of the Mtb proteome. Here we evaluate an intra-genus “homolog-rescue” strategy to increase the structural information available for TB drug discovery by using mycobacterial homologs with conserved active sites. Of 179 potential TB drug targets selected for x-ray structure determination, only 16 yielded a crystal structure. By adding 1675 homologs from nine other mycobacterial species to the pipeline, structures representing an additional 52 otherwise intractable targets were solved. To determine whether these homolog structures would be useful surrogates in TB drug design, we compared the active sites of 106 pairs of Mtb and non-TB mycobacterial (NTM) enzyme homologs with experimentally determined structures, using three metrics of active site similarity, including superposition of continuous pharmacophoric property distributions. Pair-wise structural comparisons revealed that 19/22 pairs with >55% overall sequence identity had active site Cα RMSD 85% side chain identity, and ≥80% PSAPF (similarity based on pharmacophoric properties) indicating highly conserved active site shape and chemistry. Applying these results to the 52 NTM structures described above, 41 shared >55% sequence identity with the Mtb target, thus increasing the effective structural coverage of the 179 Mtb targets over three-fold (from 9% to 32%). The utility of these structures in TB drug design can be tested by designing inhibitors using the homolog structure and assaying the cognate Mtb enzyme; a promising test case, Mtb cytidylate kinase, is described. The homolog-rescue strategy evaluated here for TB is also generalizable to drug targets for other diseases.
Summary The Objective of this analysis was to identify predictors of death, failure, and default among MDR-TB patients treated with second-line drugs in DOTS-plus projects in Estonia, Latvia, Philippines, Russia, and Peru, 2000–2004. Risk ratios (RR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated using multivariable regression. Of 1768 patients, treatment outcomes were: cure/completed – 1156 (65%), died – 200 (11%), default - 241 (14%), failure - 118 (7%). Independent predictors of death included: age>45 years (RR = 1.90 (95%CI 1.29–2.80), HIV infection (RR = 4.22 (2.65–6.72)), extrapulmonary disease (RR = 1.54 (1.04–2.26)), BMI<18.5 (RR = 2.71 (1.91–3.85)), previous use of fluoroquinolones (RR = 1.91 (1.31–2.78)), resistance to any thioamide (RR = 1.59 (1.14–2.22)), baseline positive smear (RR = 2.22 (1.60–3.10)), no culture conversion by 3rd month of treatment (RR = 1.69 (1.19–2.41)); failure: cavitary disease (RR = 1.73 (1.07–2.80)), resistance to any fluoroquinolone (RR = 2.73 (1.71–4.37)) and any thioamide (RR = 1.62 (1.12–2.34)), and no culture conversion by 3rd month (RR = 5.84 (3.02–11.27)); default: unemployment (RR = 1.50 (1.12–2.01)), homelessness (RR = 1.52 (1.00–2.31)), imprisonment (RR = 1.86 (1.42–2.45)), alcohol abuse (RR = 1.60 (1.18–2.16)), and baseline positive smear (RR = 1.35 (1.07–1.71)). Patients with biomedical risk factors for treatment failure or death should receive heightened medical attention. To prevent treatment default, management of patients who are unemployed, homeless, alcoholic, or have a prison history requires extra measures to insure treatment completion.
Abstract M.bovis BCG vaccination against tuberculosis (TB) notoriously displays variable protective efficacy in different human populations. In non-human primate studies using rhesus macaques, despite efforts to standardise the model, we have also observed variable efficacy of BCG upon subsequent experimental M. tuberculosis challenge. In the present head-to-head study, we establish that the protective efficacy of standard parenteral BCG immunisation varies among different rhesus cohorts. This provides different dynamic ranges for evaluation of investigational vaccines, opportunities for identifying possible correlates of protective immunity and for determining why parenteral BCG immunisation sometimes fails. We also show that pulmonary mucosal BCG vaccination confers reduced local pathology and improves haematological and immunological parameters post-infection in animals that are not responsive to induction of protection by standard intra-dermal BCG. These results have important implications for pulmonary TB vaccination strategies in the future.
Summary Tuberculosis (TB) caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) is the second major cause of death from an infectious disease worldwide. Recent advances in DNA sequencing are leading to the ability to generate whole genome information in clinical isolates of M. tuberculosis complex (MTBC). The identification of informative genetic variants such as phylogenetic markers and those associated with drug resistance or virulence will help barcode Mtb in the context of epidemiological, diagnostic and clinical studies. Mtb genomic datasets are increasingly available as raw sequences, which are potentially difficult and computer intensive to process, and compare across studies. Here we have processed the raw sequence data (>1500 isolates, eight studies) to compile a catalogue of SNPs ( n = 74,039, 63% non-synonymous, 51.1% in more than one isolate, i.e. non-private), small indels ( n = 4810) and larger structural variants ( n = 800). We have developed the PolyTB web-based tool ( http://pathogenseq.lshtm.ac.uk/polytb ) to visualise the resulting variation and important meta-data (e.g. in silico inferred strain-types, location) within geographical map and phylogenetic views. This resource will allow researchers to identify polymorphisms within candidate genes of interest, as well as examine the genomic diversity and distribution of strains. PolyTB source code is freely available to researchers wishing to develop similar tools for their pathogen of interest.
Summary We sought to identify biomarker responses to tuberculosis specific antigens which could 1) improve the diagnosis of tuberculosis infection and 2) allow the differentiation of active and latent infections. Seventy subjects with active tuberculosis ( N = 12), latent tuberculosis ( N = 32), or no evidence of tuberculosis infection ( N = 26) were evaluated. We used the Luminex Multiplexed Bead Array platform to simultaneously evaluate 25 biomarkers in the supernatant of whole blood samples following overnight stimulation using the Quantiferon® Gold In-Tube kit. We defined the response to stimulation as the difference (within an individual patient) between the response to the pooled tuberculosis antigens and the negative control. IP-10 response was significantly higher in tuberculosis-infected (active or latent) subjects compared to the uninfected group ( p < 0.0001). Among the 25 parameters, expression levels of IL-15 and MCP-1 were found to be significantly higher in the active tuberculosis group compared to the latent tuberculosis group ( p = 0.0006 and 0.0030, respectively). When combined, IL-15 and MCP-1 accurately identified 83% of active and 88% of latent infections. The combination of IL-15 and MCP-1 responses was accurate in distinguishing persons with active tuberculosis from persons with latent tuberculosis in this study.
Summary Mucosal-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells contribute to protection against certain microorganism infections. The aims of this study were to examine the levels of MAIT cells in pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) and nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) lung disease patients, to evaluate the clinical relevance of MAIT cell levels, and to investigate the functions of MAIT cells. Patients with pulmonary TB (n = 35), NTM (n = 29), and healthy controls (n = 75) were enrolled in the study. MAIT cell levels and functions were measured by flow cytometry. Circluating MAIT cell levels were found to be reduced in TB and NTM patients. MAIT cell deficiency reflects a variety of clinical conditions. In particular, MAIT cell numbers were significantly correlated with sputum AFB positivity, extent of disease, hemoglobin levels, lymphocyte counts, CRP and ESR levels. MAIT cells in TB patients failed to produce interferon-γ irrespective of the mode of stimulation, whereas NTM patients displayed a defect in MR1-dependent signaling pathway. Notably, an elevated expression of programmed death-1 was also associated with MAIT cell deficiency in TB. This study shows that MAIT cells are numerically and functionally deficient in TB and NTM patients and these deficiencies could contribute to immune system dysreguation in mycobacterial infection.
Summary Whole genome sequencing (WGS) of Mycobacterium tuberculosis has been used to trace the transmission of M. tuberculosis , the causative agent of tuberculosis (TB). Previously published studies using WGS were conducted in developed countries with a low TB burden. We sought to evaluate the relative usefulness of traditional VNTR and SNP typing methods, WGS and epidemiological investigations to study the recent transmission of M. tuberculosis in a high TB burden country. We conducted epidemiological investigations of 42 TB patients whose M. tuberculosis isolates were classified into three clusters based on variable-number tandem repeat (VNTR) typing. We applied WGS to 32 (76.2%) of the 42 strains and calculated the pairwise genomic distances between strains within each cluster. Eighteen (56.3%) of the 32 strains had genomic differences ≥100 SNPs with every other strain, suggesting that direct transmission did not likely occurred. Ten strains were grouped into four WGS-based clusters with genomic distances ≤5 SNPs within each cluster, and confirmed epidemiological links were identified in two of these clusters. Our results indicate that WGS provides reliable resolution for tracing the transmission of M. tuberculosis in high TB burden settings. The high resolution of WGS is particularly useful to confirm or exclude the possibility of direct transmission events defined by traditional typing methods.
Abstract Intradermal (ID) BCG injection provides incomplete protection against TB in humans and experimental models. Alternative BCG vaccination strategies may improve protection in model species, including rhesus macaques. This study compares the immunogenicity and efficacy of BCG administered by ID and intravenous (IV) injection, or as an intratracheal mucosal boost (ID + IT), against aerosol challenge with Mycobacterium tuberculosis Erdman strain. Disease pathology was significantly reduced, and survival improved, by each BCG vaccination strategy, relative to unvaccinated animals. However, IV induced protection surpassed that achieved by all other routes, providing an opportunity to explore protective immunological mechanisms using antigen-specific IFN-γ ELISpot and polychromatic flow cytometry assays. IFN-γ spot forming units and multifunctional CD4 T-cell frequencies increased significantly following each vaccination regimen and were greatest following IV immunisation. Vaccine-induced multifunctional CD4 T-cells producing IFN-γ and TNF-α were associated with reduced disease pathology following subsequent M.tb challenge; however, high frequencies of this population following M.tb infection correlated with increased pathology. Cytokine producing T-cells primarily occupied the CD4 transitional effector memory phenotype, implicating this population as central to the mycobacterial response, potentially contributing to the stringent control observed in IV vaccinated animals. This study demonstrates the protective efficacy of IV BCG vaccination in rhesus macaques, offering a valuable tool for the interrogation of immunological mechanisms and potential correlates of protection.
Summary Tuberculosis was studied using an experimental model based on the C3HeB/FeJ mouse strain, which mimics the liquefaction of caseous necrosis occurring during active disease in immunocompetent adults. Mice were intravenously infected with 2 × 104 Colony Forming Units of Mycobacterium tuberculosis and their histopathology, immune response, bacillary load, and survival were evaluated. The effects of the administration of drugs with anti-inflammatory activity were examined, and the C3H/HeN mouse strain was also included for comparative purposes. Massive intra-alveolar neutrophilic infiltration led to rapid granuloma growth and coalescence of lesions into superlesions. A central necrotic area appeared showing progressive cellular destruction, the alveoli cell walls being initially conserved (caseous necrosis) but finally destroyed (liquefactive necrosis). Increasing levels of pro-inflammatory mediators were detected in lungs. C3HeB/FeJ treated with anti-inflammatory drugs and C3H/HeN animals presented lower levels of pro-inflammatory mediators such as TNF-α, IL-17, IL-6 and CXCL5, a lower bacillary load, better histopathology, and increased survival compared with untreated C3HeB/FeJ. The observation of massive neutrophilic infiltration suggests that inflammation may be a key factor in progression towards active tuberculosis. On the basis of our findings, we consider that the C3HeB/FeJ mouse model would be useful for evaluating new therapeutic strategies against human tuberculosis.
The aim of this verification study was to compare the QuantiFERON -TB Gold Plus (QFT-Plus) to the QuantiFERON -TB Gold In Tube (QFT-GIT). The new QFT-Plus test contains an extra antigen tube which, according to the manufacturer additionally elicits a CD8 T-cell response above the CD4 T-cell response. We assessed the value of this tube in detecting recent latent tuberculosis infections. Between May 2015 and December 2016, 1031 subjects underwent QFT-Plus and QFT-GIT test. Overall agreement between both tests and performance for different test indications and/or immune states was assessed. A difference of >0.6 IU/mL interferon-γ release between the two antigen tubes of the QFT-Plus assay was considered a true difference and used as estimation for CD8 T-cell response. Analysis of the QuantiFERON tests resulted in an overall agreement between assays of 95%. Subjects considered to be recently exposed to tuberculosis had significantly more often a true difference in interferon-γ release compared to all other subjects ( = 0.029). Results of QFT-Plus are highly comparable to QFT-GIT. Although there is an indication that a true difference in interferon-γ release between the antigen tubes is associated with recent latent tuberculosis infection, the QFT-Plus could not be used to exclude recent exposure.
Abstract Rapid detection of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) , an etiological agent of tuberculosis (TB), is important for global control of this disease. Aptamers have emerged as a potential rival for antibodies in therapeutics, diagnostics and biosensing due to their inherent characteristics. The aim of the current study was to select and characterize single-stranded DNA aptamers against MPT64 protein, one of the predominant secreted proteins of Mtb pathogen. Aptamers specific to MPT64 protein were selected in vitro using systematic evolution of ligands through exponential enrichment (SELEX) method. The selection was started with a pool of ssDNA library with randomized 40-nucleotide region. A total of 10 cycles were performed and seventeen aptamers with unique sequences were identified by sequencing. Dot Blot analysis was performed to monitor the SELEX process and to conduct the preliminary tests on the affinity and specificity of aptamers. Enzyme linked oligonucleotide assay (ELONA) showed that most of the aptamers were specific to the MPT64 protein with a linear correlation of R 2 = 0.94 for the most selective. Using Surface Plasmon Resonance (SPR), dissociation equilibrium constant K D of 8.92 nM was obtained. Bioinformatics analysis of the most specific aptamers revealed the existence of a conserved as well as distinct sequences and possible binding site on MPT64. The specificity was determined by testing non-target ESAT-6 and CFP-10. Negligible cross-reactivity confirmed the high specificity of the selected aptamer. The selected aptamer was further tested on clinical sputum samples using ELONA and had sensitivity and specificity of 91.3% and 90%, respectively. Microscopy, culture positivity and nucleotide amplification methods were used as reference standards. The aptamers studied could be further used for the development of medical diagnostic tools and detection assays for Mtb.
Summary Kinase targets are being pursued in a variety of diseases beyond cancer, including immune and metabolic as well as viral, parasitic, fungal and bacterial. In particular, there is a relatively recent interest in kinase and ATP-binding targets in Mycobacterium tuberculosis in order to identify inhibitors and potential drugs for essential proteins that are not targeted by current drug regimens. Herein, we report the high throughput screening results for a targeted library of approximately 26,000 compounds that was designed based on current kinase inhibitor scaffolds and known kinase binding sites. The phenotypic data presented herein may form the basis for selecting scaffolds/compounds for further enzymatic screens against specific kinase or other ATP-binding targets in Mycobacterium tuberculosis based on the apparent activity against the whole bacteria in vitro.