Retrospective Analysis of Serotype Switching of Vibrio cholerae O1 in a Cholera Endemic Region Shows It Is a Non-random Process

Citation: Karlsson SL, Thomson N, Mutreja A, Connor T, Sur D, Ali M, et al. (2016) Retrospective Analysis of Serotype Switching of Vibrio cholerae O1 in a Cholera Endemic Region Shows It Is a Non-random Process. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 10(10): e0005044. doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0005044
Published: October 5, 2016

Abstract
cholera_bacteria_semGenomic data generated from clinical Vibrio cholerae O1 isolates collected over a five year period in an area of Kolkata, India with seasonal cholera outbreaks allowed a detailed genetic analysis of serotype switching that occurred from Ogawa to Inaba and back to Ogawa. The change from Ogawa to Inaba resulted from mutational disruption of the methyltransferase encoded by the wbeT gene. Re-emergence of the Ogawa serotype was found to result either from expansion of an already existing Ogawa clade or reversion of the mutation in an Inaba clade. Our data suggests that such transitions are not random events but rather driven by as yet unidentified selection mechanisms based on differences in the structure of the O1 antigen or in the serotype-determining wbeT gene.

Author Summary: Cholera is a major health problem in many parts of the world causing seasonal outbreaks in endemic areas. Essentially only the O1 serogroup of Vibrio cholerae causes epidemic cholera. This serogroup has two immunologically distinguishable serotype variants called Ogawa and Inaba. The Inaba serotype is a consequence of a mutation in a single gene, wbeT, that in its intact form encodes for an enzyme that methylates the terminal perosamine sugar of the lipopolysaccharide side chain thus resulting in the Ogawa serotype. By careful examination over a five-year period of the genetic lineages of bacteria causing cholera in an endemic area we show data indicating that serotype switching is not a random process but is driven by selection pressures that have yet to be identified.

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