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Comparative phylogenomics and evolution of the brucellae reveal a path to virulence

Wattam, Alice R. and Foster, Jeffrey T. and Mane, Shrinivasrao P. and Beckstrom-Sternberg, Stephen M. and Beckstrom-Sternberg, James M. and Dickerman, Allan W. and Keim, Paul and Pearson, Talima and Shukla, Maulik and Ward, Doyle V. and Williams, Kelly P. and Sobral, Bruno W. and Tsolis, Renee M. and Whatmore, Adrian M. and O'Callaghan, David (2014) Comparative phylogenomics and evolution of the brucellae reveal a path to virulence. Journal of Bacteriology, 196 (5). pp. 920-930. ISSN 1098-5530


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Publisher’s or external URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/jb.01091-13


Brucella species include important zoonotic pathogens that have a substantial impact on both agriculture and human health throughout the world. Brucellae are thought of as “stealth pathogens” that escape recognition by the host innate immune response, modulate the acquired immune response, and evade intracellular destruction. We analyzed the genome sequences of members of the family Brucellaceae to assess its evolutionary history from likely free-living soil-based progenitors into highly successful intracellular pathogens. Phylogenetic analysis split the genus into two groups: recently identified and early-dividing “atypical” strains and a highly conserved “classical” core clade containing the major pathogenic species. Lateral gene transfer events brought unique genomic regions into Brucella that differentiated them from Ochrobactrum and allowed the stepwise acquisition of virulence factors that include a type IV secretion system, a perosamine-based O antigen, and systems for sequestering metal ions that are absent in progenitors. Subsequent radiation within the core Brucella resulted in lineages that appear to have evolved within their preferred mammalian hosts, restricting their virulence to become stealth pathogens capable of causing long-term chronic infections.

Item Type: Article
Publisher’s Statement: Copyright © 2014, American Society for Microbiology.
ID number or DOI: 10.1128/JB.01091-13
Keywords: 2,3-dihydroxybenzoic acid; Antigens; Bacterial Proteins; Biological Evolution; Brucellaceae; domain-containing protein; Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial; genetic organization; Genome, Bacterial; Genomics; genus brucella; Immune response; intracellular survival; Pathogenic, microorganisms; Phylogeny; research; urease activity; virulence; Virulence (Microbiology); Zoonoses
Subjects: Q Science > QR Microbiology
NAU Depositing Author Academic Status: Faculty/Staff
Department/Unit: Research Centers > Center for Microbial Genetics and Genomics
Date Deposited: 08 Mar 2016 21:58
URI: http://openknowledge.nau.edu/id/eprint/819

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