4 years ago

Genomic characterization of urethritis-associated Neisseria meningitidis shows that a wide range of N. meningitidis strains can cause urethritis.

Takahashi H, Grad YH, Ohnishi M, Unemo M, Kirkcaldy RD, Jeverica S, Ma KC
Neisseria meningitidis, typically a resident of the oro- or nasopharynx and the causative agent of meningococcal meningitis and meningococcemia, is capable of invading and colonizing the urogenital tract. This can result in urethritis, akin to the syndrome caused by its sister species N. gonorrhoeae, the etiologic agent of gonorrhea. Recently, meningococcal strains associated with outbreaks of urethritis were reported to share genetic characteristics with gonococcus, raising the question of the extent to which these strains contain features that promote adaptation to the genitourinary niche, making them gonococcal-like and distinguishing them from other N. meningitidis Here, we analyzed the genomes of 39 diverse N. meningitidis isolates associated with urethritis, collected independently over a decade and across three continents. In particular, we characterized the diversity of the nitrite reductase gene (aniA), the factor-H binding protein gene (fHbp), and the capsule biosynthetic locus, all of which are loci previously suggested to be associated with urogenital colonization. We observed notable diversity including frameshift variants in aniA and fHbp, and the presence of intact, disrupted, and absent capsule biosynthetic genes, indicating that urogenital colonization and urethritis caused by N. meningitidis is possible across a range of meningococcal genotypes. Previously identified allelic patterns in urethritis-associated N. meningitidis may reflect genetic diversity in the underlying meningococcal population rather than novel adaptation to the urogenital tract.

Publisher URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28904187

DOI: PubMed:28904187

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