Microevolution of Campylobacter jejuni during long-term infection in an immunocompromised host.
Barker CR., Painset A., Swift C., Jenkins C., Godbole G., Maiden MCJ., Dallman TJ.
Campylobacteriosis typically manifests as a short-lived, self-limiting gastrointestinal infection in humans, however prolonged infection can be seen in cases with underlying immunodeficiency. Public Health England received 25 isolates of Campylobacter jejuni from an individual with combined variable immunodeficiency over a period of 15 years. All isolates were typed and archived at the time of receipt. Whole genome sequencing (WGS) and antimicrobial susceptibility testing were performed to examine the relatedness of the isolates and to investigate the changes in the genome that had taken place over the course of the infection. Genomic typing methods were compared to conventional phenotypic methods, and revealed that the infection was caused by a single, persistent strain of C. jejuni belonging to clonal complex ST-45, with evidence of adaptation and selection in the genome over the course of the infection. Genomic analysis of sequence variants associated with antimicrobial resistance identified the genetic background behind rRNA gene mutations causing variable levels of resistance to erythromycin. This application of WGS to examine a persistent case of campylobacteriosis provides insight into the mutations and selective pressures occurring over the course of an infection, some of which have important clinical relevance.