Characterization of Pneumococcal Colonization Dynamics and Antimicrobial Resistance Using Shotgun Metagenomic Sequencing in Intensively Sampled South African Infants

Rendani I. Manenzhe, Felix S. Dube, Meredith Wright, Katie Lennard, Stephanie Mounaud, Stephanie W. Lo, Heather J. Zar, William C. Nierman, Mark P. Nicol, Clinton Moodley

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Background: There remains a significant proportion of deaths due to pneumococcal pneumonia in infants from low- and middle-income countries despite the marginal global declines recorded in the past decade. Monitoring changes in pneumococcal carriage is key to understanding vaccination-induced shifts in the ecology of carriage, patterns of antimicrobial resistance, and impact on health. We longitudinally investigated pneumococcal carriage dynamics in PCV-13 vaccinated infants by collecting nasopharyngeal (NP) samples at 2-weekly intervals from birth through the first year of life from 137 infants. As a proof of concept, 196 NP samples were retrieved from a subset of 23 infants to explore strain-level pneumococcal colonization patterns and associated antimicrobial-resistance determinants. These were selected on the basis of changes in serotype and antibiogram over time. NP samples underwent short-term enrichment for streptococci prior to total nucleic acid extraction and whole metagenome shotgun sequencing (WMGS). Reads were assembled and aligned to pneumococcal reference genomes for the extraction of pneumococcal and non-pneumococcal bacterial reads. Pneumococcal contigs were aligned to the Antibiotic Resistance Gene-ANNOTation database of acquired AMR genes. In silico pneumococcal capsular and multilocus sequence typing were performed. Results: Of the 196 samples sequenced, 174 had corresponding positive cultures for pneumococci, of which, 152 were assigned an in silico serotype. Metagenomic sequencing detected a single pneumococcal serotype in 85% (129/152), and co-colonization in 15% (23/152) of the samples. Twenty-two different pneumococcal serotypes were identified, with 15B/15C and 16F being the most common non-PCV13 serotypes, while 23F and 19A were the most common PCV13 serotypes. Twenty-six different sequence types (STs), including four novel STs were identified in silico. Mutations in the folA and folP genes, associated with cotrimoxazole resistance, were detected in 89% (87/98) of cotrimoxazole-non-susceptible pneumococci, as well as in the pbp1a and pbp2x genes, in penicillin non-susceptible ST705215B/15C isolates. Conclusions: Metagenomic sequencing of NP samples is a valuable culture-independent technique for a detailed evaluation of the pneumococcal component and resistome of the NP microbiome. This method allowed for the detection of novel STs, as well as co-colonization, with a predominance of non-PCV13 serotypes in this cohort. Forty-eight resistance genes, as well as mutations associated with resistance were detected, but the correlation with phenotypic non-susceptibility was lower than expected.

Original languageEnglish
Article number543898
JournalFrontiers in Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 22 Sep 2020


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