The Evolution of Strain Typing in the Mycobacterium tuberculosis Complex.

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The Evolution of Strain Typing in the Mycobacterium tuberculosis Complex.

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2017;1019:43-78

Authors: Merker M, Kohl TA, Niemann S, Supply P

Abstract
Tuberculosis (TB) is a contagious disease with a complex epidemiology. Therefore, molecular typing (genotyping) of Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTBC) strains is of primary importance to effectively guide outbreak investigations, define transmission dynamics and assist global epidemiological surveillance of the disease. Large-scale genotyping is also needed to get better insights into the biological diversity and the evolution of the pathogen. Thanks to its shorter turnaround and simple numerical nomenclature system, mycobacterial interspersed repetitive unit-variable-number tandem repeat (MIRU-VNTR) typing, based on 24 standardized plus 4 hypervariable loci, optionally combined with spoligotyping, has replaced IS6110 DNA fingerprinting over the last decade as a gold standard among classical strain typing methods for many applications. With the continuous progress and decreasing costs of next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies, typing based on whole genome sequencing (WGS) is now increasingly performed for near complete exploitation of the available genetic information. However, some important challenges remain such as the lack of standardization of WGS analysis pipelines, the need of databases for sharing WGS data at a global level, and a better understanding of the relevant genomic distances for defining clusters of recent TB transmission in different epidemiological contexts. This chapter provides an overview of the evolution of genotyping methods over the last three decades, which culminated with the development of WGS-based methods. It addresses the relative advantages and limitations of these techniques, indicates current challenges and potential directions for facilitating standardization of WGS-based typing, and provides suggestions on what method to use depending on the specific research question.

PMID: 29116629 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

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