Decoding the similarities and differences among mycobacterial species

09 Oct 2017

Mycobacteriaceae comprises pathogenic species such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis, M. leprae and M. abscessus, as well as non-pathogenic species, for example, M. smegmatis and M. thermoresistibile. Genome comparison and annotation studies provide insights into genome evolutionary relatedness, identify unique and pathogenicity-related genes in each species, and explore new targets that could be used for developing new diagnostics and therapeutics. Here, we present a comparative analysis of ten-mycobacterial genomes with the objective of identifying similarities and differences between pathogenic and non-pathogenic species. We identified 1080 core orthologous clusters that were enriched in proteins involved in amino acid and purine/pyrimidine biosynthetic pathways, DNA-related processes (replication, transcription, recombination and repair), RNA-methylation and modification, and cell- wall polysaccharide biosynthetic pathways. For their pathogenicity and survival in the host cell, pathogenic species have gained specific sets of genes involved in repair and protection of their genomic DNA. M. leprae is of special interest owing to its having the smallest genome (1600 genes and ~1300 psuedogenes), yet poor genome annotation. More than 75% of the pseudogenes were found to have a functional ortholog in the other mycobacterial genomes and belong to protein families such as transferases, oxidoreductases and hydrolases.