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Strain-Resolved Dynamics of the Lung Microbiome in Patients with Cystic Fibrosis

Marija Dmitrijeva, Christian R. Kahlert, Rounak Feigelman, Rebekka L Kleiner, Oliver Nolte, Werner Albrich, Florent Baty & Christian Von Mering

abstract In cystic fibrosis, dynamic and complex communities of microbial pathogens and commensals can colonize the lung. Cultured isolates from lung sputum reveal high inter- and intraindividual variability in pathogen strains, sequence variants, and phenotypes; disease progression likely depends on the precise combination of infecting lineages. Routine clinical protocols, however, provide a limited overview of the colonizer populations. Therefore, a more comprehensive and precise identification and characterization of infecting lineages could assist in making corresponding decisions on treatment. Here, we describe longitudinal tracking for four cystic fibrosis patients who exhibited extreme clinical phenotypes and, thus, were selected from a pilot cohort of 11 patients with repeated sampling for more than a year. Following metagenomics sequencing of lung sputum, we find that the taxonomic identity of individual colonizer lineages can be easily established. Crucially, even superficially clonal pathogens can be subdivided into multiple sublineages at the sequence level. By tracking individual allelic differences over time, an assembly-free clustering approach allows us to reconstruct multiple lineage-specific genomes with clear structural differences. Our study showcases a culture-independent shotgun metagenomics approach for longitudinal tracking of sublineage pathogen dynamics, opening up the possibility of using such methods to assist in monitoring disease progression through providing high-resolution routine characterization of the cystic fibrosis lung microbiome. Cystic fibrosis patients frequently suffer from recurring respiratory infections caused by colonizing pathogenic and commensal bacteria. Although modern therapies can sometimes alleviate respiratory symptoms by ameliorating residual function of the protein responsible for the disorder, management of chronic respiratory infections remains an issue. Here, we propose a minimally invasive and culture-independent method to monitor microbial lung content in patients with cystic fibrosis at minimal additional effort on the patient's part. Through repeated sampling and metagenomics sequencing of our selected cystic fibrosis patients, we successfully classify infecting bacterial lineages and deconvolute multiple lineage variants of the same species within a given patient. This study explores the application of modern computational methods for deconvoluting lineages in the cystic fibrosis lung microbiome, an environment known to be inhabited by a heterogeneous pathogen population that complicates management of the disorder.
   
citation Dmitrijeva M, Kahlert C R, Feigelman R, Kleiner R L, Nolte O, albrich w, Baty F, von Mering C. Strain-Resolved Dynamics of the Lung Microbiome in Patients with Cystic Fibrosis. mBio 2021; 12:.
   
type journal paper/review (English)
date of publishing 09-03-2021
journal title mBio (12/2)
ISSN electronic 2150-7511
PubMed 33688005
DOI 10.1128/mBio.02863-20