We compared genomes from multiple isolations of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O157:H7 from the same patient, in cases notified to Public Health England (PHE) between 2015 and 2019. There were 261 cases where multiple isolates were sequenced from the same patient comprising 589 isolates. Serial isolates from the same patient fell within five single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of each other for 260/261 (99.6%) of the cases, indicating that there was little evidence of within host variation. The investigation into the 13 SNP discrepancy between one isolate pair revealed the cause to be a recombination event within a stx2a-encoding prophage resulting in the insertion/deletion of a fragment of the genome. This 50 kbp prophage fragment was homologous to a prophage in the reference genome, and the short reads from the isolate that had the 50 kbp fragment, mapped unambiguously to this region. The discrepant variants in the isolate without the 50 kbp fragment were attributed to ambiguous mapping of the short reads from other prophage regions to the 50 kbp fragment in the reference genome. Identification of such recombination events in this dataset appeared to be rare, most likely because the majority of prophage regions in the Sakai reference genome are masked during the analysis. Identification of SNPs under neutral selection, and masking recombination events, is a requirement for phylogenetic analysis used for public health surveillance, and for the detection of point source outbreaks. However, assaying the accessory genome by combining the use of short and long read technologies for public health surveillance may provide insight into how recombination events impact on the evolutionary course of STEC O157:H7.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The research was part funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Protection Research Unit in Gastrointestinal Infections at the University of Liverpool (UK), in partnership with PHE, in collaboration with the University of East Anglia (UK), the University of Oxford (UK), and the Quadram Institute (UK). CJ, TD, and DG are based at PHE.
© Copyright © 2020 Greig, Jenkins and Dallman.
- Shiga toxin-producing E. coli