Genome anatomy of the gastrointestinal pathogen, Vibrio parahaemolyticus of crustacean origin
© Tiruvayipati et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2013
Received: 3 October 2013
Accepted: 29 November 2013
Published: 11 December 2013
Vibrio parahaemolyticus, an important human pathogen, is associated with gastroenteritis and transmitted through partially cooked seafood. It has become a major concern in the production and trade of marine food products. The prevalence of potentially virulent and pathogenic V. parahaemolyticus in raw seafood is of public health significance. Here we describe the genome sequence of a V. parahaemolyticus isolate of crustacean origin which was cultured from prawns in 2008 in Selangor, Malaysia (isolate PCV08-7). The next generation sequencing and analysis revealed that the genome of isolate PCV08-7 has closest similarity to that of V. parahaemolyticus RIMD2210633. However, there are certain unique features of the PCV08-7 genome such as the absence of TDH-related hemolysin (TRH), and the presence of HU-alpha insertion. The genome of isolate PCV08-7 encodes a thermostable direct hemolysin (TDH), an important virulence factor that classifies PCV08-7 isolate to be a serovariant of O3:K6 strain. Apart from these, we observed that there is certain pattern of genetic rearrangements that makes V. parahaemolyticus PCV08-7 a non-pandemic clone. We present detailed genome statistics and important genetic features of this bacterium and discuss how its survival, adaptation and virulence in marine and terrestrial hosts can be understood through the genomic blueprint and that the availability of genome sequence entailing this important Malaysian isolate would likely enhance our understanding of the epidemiology, evolution and transmission of foodborne Vibrios in Malaysia and elsewhere.
Vibrio parahaemolyticus inhabits the estuarine, marine and brackish water ecosystems. It is an important human pathogen associated with gastroenteritis linked to contaminated seafood consumption. Since this species is abundant in marine products, it has become a significant concern in the production and trade of seafood worldwide. In Southeast Asian countries, including Malaysia, virulent V. parahaemolyticus in raw seafood have been reported[2, 3]. Numerous cases of V. parahaemolyticus infection were reported in North America, South East Asia and Japan including some places in East Asia[4–10] giving the illness a pandemic status affecting thousands of people. Thus, the prevalence of pathogenic Vibrios in seafood is of public health concern and is an open ended issue.
The pathogenic V. parahaemolyticus strains are differentiated from non-pathogenic ones by their ability to cause beta-haemolysis on Wagatsuma agar, an activity known as ‘Kanagawa phenomenon’. This effect is mediated by the activity of thermostable direct hemolysin (TDH) encoded by the tdh genes. A pandemic clone of V. parahaemolyticus can broadly be defined as the one that is positive for TDH and exhibits the Kanagawa phenomenon.
V. parahaemolyticus strains are classified based on the types and variants of their O antigen and flagellar antigen (K). There are 13 O-serogroups and 71 K antigens and various combinations of these give rise to a wide variety of serovars which have been recognized as the causative agents of the disease. A clone of serovar O3:K6 has recently emerged and was associated with outbreaks in India and Japan. Frequent recombination events that promote clonal diversification suggest a scenario whereby a subset of O3:K6 strains might continue to evolve. Consequently, different groups of related O3:K6 clonal strains have now been globally disseminated in Asia, North and South America, Africa and Europe.
The genomes of V. parahaemolyticus strains are said to have undergone a number of recombination events that could have been the reason for serotype conversion from O3:K6 to O4:K68. Regions of recombination likely involve a genetic element larger than the gene clusters encoding O and K-antigens. More than 20 serovariants which include O3:K6, O4:K68, O1:K25, O6:K18 and O1:KUT[13, 14] emerged from an original pandemic strain, O3:K6. The pandemic group of these bacteria has evolved through a number of deletions, substitutions and acquisitions of regions primarily corresponding to TDH or a TDH-related hemolysin (TRH). It is the presence of either of these two virulence factors that confer potential to cause gastroenteritis in human populations. The pandemic clone is said to have emerged from a pre-pandemic clone which was positive for TRH and negative for TDH genes and harbored a new sequence of toxR (GS-PCR). The intermediate clone is described as being negative for both TRH and TDH, but positive for GS-PCR.
It has been observed that V. parahaemolyticus contains two chromosomes; V. parahaemolyticus RIMD2210633 has 3.2 Mb and 1.8 Mb of genome sizes for chromosome1 and 2 respectively. There are several V. parahaemolyticus genomes which have been sequenced and deposited in Genbank as whole genomes or shotgun submissions (WGS) and sequence read archives (SRA). The only fully annotated submissions entail V. parahaemolyticus RIMD2210633 and V. parahaemolyticus BB220P. The V. parahaemolyticus RIMD2210633 genome harbors a Type III secretion system as a central virulence factor which is found in most diarrhea-causing bacteria. As mentioned above, many studies link to the evolutionary aspects of the present pandemic clone formed from a pre-pandemic clone with a drastic change in its gene content i.e., the evolution from a TDH negative/TRH positive to a TDH positive/TRH negative strain and the occurrence of several serovariants in the V. parahaemolyticus species. The present isolate (V. parahaemolyticus PCV08-7) has been recovered from seafood (prawn) in 2008 which were purchased from a wet market in Selangor, Malaysia.
The main purpose of this study was to analyze the PCV08-7 genome that originates from Malaysia, a large peninsular as well as archipelagic country having a thriving seafood business and that it experiences several food borne outbreaks each season. Unfortunately, there are no markers based on native genome(s) to guide detection of V. parahaemolyticus in wet market, in the aquaculture farms and from human excreta and blood. We hope that this genome sequence will be helpful in identifying markers relevant in diagnostic development and molecular epidemiology/transmission dynamics of this significant bacterium in Malaysia and elsewhere.
Source, isolation and culture of V. parahaemolyticus PCV08-7
The V. parahaemolyticus PCV08-7 (VPPCV08-7) isolate was identified and characterized by obtaining pure cultures on selective media followed by analysis through biochemical tests, Analytical Profile Index (API) tests and genetic confirmation by PCR. The bacterial culture was maintained by streak plate on a Thiosulfate-Citrate-Bile-Sucrose (Difco, France) agar plates. After incubation at 37°C for 21 – 24 hr, characteristic bacterial colonies appeared with blue-green colored boundaries. An isolated bacterial colony was cultured in Luria-Bertani (LB) broth with 2% Sodium Chloride (NaCl) and incubated overnight at 37°C for 16 – 18 hr. This bacterial culture was further maintained as glycerol stocks at -80°C in 20% glycerol. The genomic DNA was isolated from a pure, single colony. The bacterial identity was confirmed by sequence analysis of the 16S rRNA.
Genomic DNA isolation and Next-Generation Sequencing
The genomic DNA was isolated using Qiagen DNeasy Blood & Tissue kit (Qiagen, Germany) and the genome sequence was determined by Illumina genome analyzer at the Genotypic Technology Pvt. Ltd. Bengaluru, India (GA2x, pipeline version 1.6). The sequencing data comprised of 100 bp paired-end reads with an insert size corresponding to approximately 240 bp. The genome coverage obtained was approximately about 80X with per base quality of reads in a range of 25 – 40. A total of 3.8 million reads were generated. Bioinformatics analysis was carried out with the help of protocols, algorithms and scripts developed, customized and tested in Ahmed Labs.
Assembly and alignment
Velvet : Contigs were generated using the sequence reads which consisted of information from both the chromosomes of the isolate PCV08-7. This was checked by manually comparing contigs against the NCBI database by BLAST to check the highest similarity hit. V. parahaemolyticus RIMD2210633 was found to be the closest match in each search. The contigs showed unique hits to chromosome 1 (CHR1) and chromosome 2 (CHR2) as well as few common hits at both the chromosomes. The strategy of using the contigs together representing a whole genome (i.e., CHR1 and CHR2 together) or using the contigs separately as CHR1 and CHR2 was found to be challenging for further analysis to assemble them separately into two chromosomal sequences.
OSLAY : All the contigs were compared against both the chromosomes of the genome of RIMD2210633 individually and were then used to form supercontigs for both the chromosomes separately. This procedure was found to be problematic as the supercontig files generated from CHR1 and CHR2 (separately) revealed that the preliminary contigs mapped to sequences in both the supercontig files. This was perhaps due to the input file comprising assembled whole genome contigs used against CHR1 and CHR2. The second strategy under OSLAY was to attach CHR1 and CHR2 of the reference genome RIMD2210633 as follows: CHR1 and CHR2 were concatenated (as a ‘whole genome stretch’) and then further used as one full length single sequence. Using this whole genome stretch for BLAST analysis, supercontigs were generated using Velvet contigs and the BLAST results. This also eventually proved inefficient since the supercontigs contained some sequences with several ‘N’ representing a gap in this case and such supercontigs had to be sorted to their own positions on the genome.
SSPACE : Scaffolding was performed on velvet assembled contigs. As explained above, scaffolds were obtained separately from both CHR1 and CHR2 as well as with the whole genome stretch. All the scaffolds were then BLAST analyzed against both CHR1 and CHR2 of the reference genome individually, as well as at the level of the whole genome stretch. The difficulty faced with scaffolding was similar to that of OSLAY. Hence, the option of separately identifying the scaffolds with respect to CHR1 and CHR2 and dealing with them separately remained a problem.
Mauve : Velvet assembled contigs were used at this step and exported as sorted contigs by performing an alignment against the whole genome stretch. The results obtained as aligned sorted contigs were taken through a stand-alone BLAST protocol against the whole genome of RIMD2210633. Then the BLAST results were carefully checked for their positions corresponding to both CHR1 and CHR2. The contigs were carefully divided as belonging to CHR1 and CHR2 sequences of PCV08-7 draft genome. The issues faced here were limited to identifying and dealing with the sequences other than those present in the contigs, but which were common to both RIMD2210633 and PCV08-7 genomes. While working on the above strategies, BWA alignment  was performed using sequence reads against the whole genome stretch of VPRIMD2210633. Using SAMTOOLS  a .sam file was generated with which the whole genome of RIMD2210633/FASTA sequence was loaded on Tablet viewer  to manually inspect the presence of common genes and to position the draft genome of PCV08-7.
Results and discussion
The 100 bp paired end reads were assembled using Velvet assembly tool that effectively utilized approximately 3.7 million reads. The N50 value observed was 261989 bp. The contig with the maximum length was 704232 bp and the total number of bases in the genome were 5184164 bp. The genome was artificially closed.
The genomes with multiple chromosomes pose technical difficulties during assembly. It is a known fact that Vibrios – V. cholerae, V. parahaemolyticus and V. vulnificus contain two circular chromosomes. The reference genome used in this study, V. parahaemolyticus RIMD2210633 also consists of two chromosomes. As studied previously, the origin of replication in chromosome 1 with the presence of dnaA gene shows its similarity to many genomes of prokaryotic origin and the origin of replication of chromosome 2 shows homology with that present on V. cholerae chromosome 2. The identification of distinct replication sites is of utmost importance for assembling bacterial genomes with two chromosomes which in the case of V. cholerae have been studied earlier. Previous studies explain need for a more accurate procedure to handle data to correctly assemble two chromosomes and assign gene locations. The reads were assembled into a total of 83 contigs which were separated based on the assemble strategy as explained in the materials and methods section. Dealing with the present data, we observed that many of the genes of significant virulence or fitness importance were located on the chromosomes rather than showing any significant homology to the Vibrio plasmids. The presence of the Phd-Doc toxin antitoxin gene in our genome makes it interesting as the antitoxin gene has been previously reported related to plasmids while a recent study described its occurrence on the chromosome of Vibrio species. However, we agree that the exact source of these genes can be mapped only when the plasmids will be sequenced and or analyzed separately.
Genome statistics and annotation
The draft assembled genome was annotated using the RAST server. Statistics of the V. parahaemolyticus PCV08-7 draft genome were derived using Artemis, RNAmmer and tRNAscanSE: the sizes of chromosome 1 and chromosome 2 of the isolate were 3471185 bp and 1867355 bp respectively with G + C content of 45.35%. The tRNA and rRNA genes were 102 and 31 for chromosome 1, and 13 and 3 for chromosome 2, respectively. The chromosome 1 revealed a coding percentage of 85 with an average gene length of 943 bp while the chromosome 2 had a coding percentage of 86.2 with an average gene length of 950 bp.
Identification of novel gene content and comparative analysis
Table representing pathogenicity related clusters and other VP clusters in V. parahaemolyticus PCV08-7: (1) pathogenicity related clusters (VPaI1-VPaI7) in the genome of strain RIMD2210633 that signify it to be a pandemic O3:K6 strain and their presence or absence in the genome of PCV08-7 isolate, (2) various other VP clusters and their occurrence in the genome of PCV08-7
(1) Vibrio parahaemolyticus RIMD2210633
V. parahaemolyticus PCV08-7
Type VI secretion system (VP1386-1420)
(2) Other VP clusters
V . parahaemolyticus PCV08-7
From the above thesis, it becomes probably apparent that the genome of V. parahaemolyticus PCV08-7 meaningfully adds to the battery of important genomic sequences representing enteropathogenic bacteria. The genome of an arthropod derived, foodborne Vibrio should be important to understand adaptation to a crustacean host and a human host.
Epilogue and future directions
A first account of the genome of V. parahaemolyticus PCV08-7 has been presented. The draft genome and its annotation as described would be able to explain the lifestyle of pathogenic Vibrio species. The experience of assembling this genome and the difficulties associated with separating the data with respect to two chromosomes would certainly be helpful to the community in the follow-up studies. Further, a host of new molecular markers as gleaned by our analysis would be relevant in the diagnostic development and molecular epidemiology. The present genome and the ensuing comparative genomics would be able to rekindle our thoughts on the survival and virulence as well as transmission potentials of V. parahaemolyticus and also on their adaptation to different hosts and the niches thereof. Our results clearly reveal a significantly novel gene content which could presumably have been acquired through a horizontal gene transfer mechanism. Our analysis revealed the presence of not only the conserved genomic regions among different V. parahaemolyticus bacteria, but also dissects some of the unique sets of genes that hold relevance to virulence. We propose to finish and polish the genome in the near future also with the help of further coverage using alternative sequencing platforms and by employing a hybrid assembly approach. Also, it will be possible to determine the true extent of the diversity of V. parahaemolyticus strains obtained from seafood as compared to those isolated from human cases. Such a diversity analysis would focus on 1) genomic coordinates relevant to colonization of and adaptation to different hosts in different ecosystems; 2) genome dynamics relative to bacterial fitness shaping over time and with transmission across different hosts; and 3) profile of genomic rearrangements including additive and reductive genome evolution and their significance in the evolution of pathogenic Vibrio species. Presently, the epidemiology of V. parahaemolyticus infection in resource-poor countries largely entails a classical serology concocted with guess work as to the type of strain involved and its source. Our genomic data would hopefully contribute to this situation also.
Availability of supporting data
The Vibrio parahaemolyticus PCV08-7 whole genome shotgun project was deposited in Genbank under the accession AOCL00000000. The version described in this paper is the first version, AOCL01000000. This consists of sequences from AOCL01000000 – AOCL01000083 (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/nuccore/AOCL00000000).
TS was supported by a doctoral fellowship from University of Malaya under the Bright Sparks program (BSP 226(3)-12). SB would like to thank University of Malaya for the support from the PPP grant PG088-2012B. SB and KLT would like to acknowledge research support received from University of Malaya under different funding instruments. NA would like to acknowledge partial support from the UM-HIR project of the University of Malaya. NA is an Academy Professor (Adjunct) of the Academy of Scientific and Innovative Research, India and visiting Professor at the Institute of Biological Sciences, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur.
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