Negligible genetic diversity of Mycobacterium tuberculosis host immune system protein targets: Evidence of limited selective pressure

James M. Musser, Amol Amin, Srinivas Ramaswamy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

108 Scopus citations

Abstract

A common theme in medical microbiology is that the amount of amino acid sequence variation in proteins that are targets of the host immune system greatly exceeds that found in metabolic enzymes or other housekeeping proteins. Twenty-four Mycobacterium tuberculosis genes coding for targets of the host immune system were sequenced in 16 strains representing the breadth of genomic diversity in the species. Of the 24 genes, 19 were invariant and only six polymorphic nucleotide sites were identified in the 5 genes that did have variation. The results document the highly unusual circumstance that prominent M. tuberculosis antigenic proteins have negligible structural variation worldwide. The data are best explained by a combination of three factors: (i) evolutionarily recent global dissemination in humans, (ii) lengthy intracellular quiescence, and (iii) active replication in relatively few fully immunocompetent hosts. The very low level of amino acid diversity in antigenic proteins may be cause for optimism in the difficult fight to control global tuberculosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7-16
Number of pages10
JournalGenetics
Volume155
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics

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