Implementation of a pan-genomic approach to investigate holobiont-infecting microbe interaction: A case report of a leukemic patient with invasive mucormycosis

Samuel A. Shelburne, Nadim J. Ajami, Marcus C. Chibucos, Hannah C. Beird, Jeffrey Tarrand, Jessica Galloway-Peña, Nathan Albert, Roy F. Chemaly, Shashank S. Ghantoji, Lisa Marsh, Naveen Pemmaraju, Michael Andreeff, Elizabeth J. Shpall, Jennifer A. Wargo, Katayoun Rezvani, Amin Alousi, Vincent M. Bruno, Phillip A. Futreal, Joseph F. Petrosino, Dimitrios P. Kontoyiannis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Disease can be conceptualized as the result of interactions between infecting microbe and holobiont, the combination of a host and its microbial communities. It is likely that genomic variation in the host, infecting microbe, and commensal microbiota are key determinants of infectious disease clinical outcomes. However, until recently, simultaneous, multiomic investigation of infecting microbe and holobiont components has rarely been explored. Herein, we characterized the infecting microbe, host, micro-and mycobiomes leading up to infection onset in a leukemia patient that developed invasive mucormycosis. We discovered that the patient was infected with a strain of the recently described Mucor velutinosus species which we determined was hypervirulent in a Drosophila challenge model and has a predisposition for skin dissemination. After completing the infecting M. velutinosus genome and genomes from four other Mucor species, comparative pathogenomics was performed and assisted in identifying 66 M. velutinosus-specific putatively secreted proteins, including multiple novel secreted aspartyl proteinases which may contribute to the unique clinical presentation of skin dissemination. Whole exome sequencing of the patient revealed multiple non-synonymous polymorphisms in genes critical to control of fungal proliferation, such as TLR6 and PTX3. Moreover, the patient had a non-synonymous polymorphism in the NOD2 gene and a missense mutation in FUT2, which have been linked to microbial dysbiosis and microbiome diversity maintenance during physiologic stress, respectively. In concert with host genetic polymorphism data, the micro-and mycobiome analyses revealed that the infection developed amid a dysbiotic microbiome with low α-diversity, dominated by staphylococci. Additionally, longitudinal mycobiome data showed that M. velutinosus DNA was detectable in oral samples preceding disease onset. Our genome-level study of the hostinfecting microbe-commensal triad extends the concept of personalized genomic medicine to the holobiont-infecting microbe interface thereby offering novel opportunities for using synergistic genetic methods to increase understanding of infectious diseases pathogenesis and clinical outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0139851
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 10 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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