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Open Access Research article

Comparative genomic analysis reveals distinct genotypic features of the emerging pathogen Haemophilus influenzae type f

Yu-Ching Su1, Fredrik Resman1, Franziska Hörhold12 and Kristian Riesbeck1*

Author Affiliations

1 Medical Microbiology, Department of Laboratory Medicine Malmö, Lund University, Jan Waldenströms gata 59, SE-205 02 Malmö, Sweden

2 Institute of Computer Science, Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, Friedrich-Schiller-University of Jena, PF 07737 Jena, Germany

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BMC Genomics 2014, 15:38  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-38

Published: 18 January 2014

Abstract

Background

The incidence of invasive disease caused by encapsulated Haemophilus influenzae type f (Hif) has increased in the post-H. influenzae type b (Hib) vaccine era. We previously annotated the first complete Hif genome from a clinical isolate (KR494) that caused septic shock and necrotizing myositis. Here, the full genome of Hif KR494 was compared to sequenced reference strains Hib 10810, capsule type d (Hid) Rd Kw20, and finally nontypeable H. influenzae 3655. The goal was to identify possible genomic characteristics that may shed light upon the pathogenesis of Hif.

Results

The Hif KR494 genome exhibited large regions of synteny with other H. influenzae, but also distinct genome rearrangements. A predicted Hif core genome of 1390 genes was shared with the reference strains, and 6 unique genomic regions comprising half of the 191 unique coding sequences were revealed. The majority of these regions were inserted genetic fragments, most likely derived from the closely-related Haemophilus spp. including H. aegyptius, H. haemolyticus and H. parainfluenzae. Importantly, the KR494 genome possessed several putative virulence genes that were distinct from non-type f strains. These included the sap2 operon, aef3 fimbriae, and genes for kanamycin nucleotidyltranserase, iron-utilization proteins, and putative YadA-like trimeric autotransporters that may increase the bacterial virulence. Furthermore, Hif KR494 lacked a hisABCDEFGH operon for de novo histidine biosynthesis, hmg locus for lipooligosaccharide biosynthesis and biofilm formation, the Haemophilus antibiotic resistance island and a Haemophilus secondary molybdate transport system. We confirmed the histidine auxotrophy and kanamycin resistance in Hif by functional experiments. Moreover, the pattern of unique or missing genes of Hif KR494 was similar in 20 Hif clinical isolates obtained from different years and geographical areas. A cross-species comparison revealed that the Hif genome shared more characteristics with H. aegyptius than Hid and NTHi.

Conclusions

The genomic comparative analyses facilitated identification of genotypic characteristics that may be related to the specific virulence of Hif. In relation to non-type f H. influenzae strains, the Hif genome contains differences in components involved in metabolism and survival that may contribute to its invasiveness.

Keywords:
Comparative genomics; Haemophilus influenzae serotype f; Invasive; Pathogen; Synteny; Virulence factor