The contribution of fungal infections to the morbidity and mortality of HIV-infected individuals is largely unrecognized. A recent meeting highlighted several priorities that need to be urgently addressed, including improved epidemiological surveillance, increased availability of existing diagnostics and drugs, more training in the field of medical mycology, and better funding for research and provision of treatment, particularly in developing countries.
Cryptococcal meningitis (CM) is a leading cause of HIV-associated mortality globally. High fungal burden in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) at diagnosis and poor fungal clearance during treatment are recognized adverse prognostic markers; however, the underlying pathogenic factors that drive these clinical manifestations are incompletely understood. We profiled a large set of clinical isolates for established cryptococcal virulence traits to evaluate the contribution of C. neoformans phenotypic diversity to clinical presentation and outcome in human cryptococcosis.
The industry of next-generation sequencing is constantly evolving, with novel library preparation methods and new sequencing machines being released by the major sequencing technology companies annually. The Illumina TruSeq v2 library preparation method was the most widely used kit and the market leader; however, it has now been discontinued, and in 2013 was replaced by the TruSeq Nano and TruSeq PCR-free methods, leaving a gap in knowledge regarding which is the most appropriate library preparation method to use. Here, we used isolates from the pathogenic fungi Cryptococcus neoformans var. grubii and sequenced them using the existing TruSeq DNA v2 kit (Illumina), along with two new kits: the TruSeq Nano DNA kit (Illumina) and the NEBNext Ultra DNA kit (New England Biolabs) to provide a comparison. Compared to the original TruSeq DNA v2 kit, both newer kits gave equivalent or better sequencing data, with increased coverage. When comparing the two newer kits, we found little difference in cost and workflow, with the NEBNext Ultra both slightly cheaper and faster than the TruSeq Nano. However, the quality of data generated using the TruSeq Nano DNA kit was superior due to higher coverage at regions of low GC content, and more SNPs identified. Researchers should therefore evaluate their resources and the type of application (and hence data quality) being considered when ultimately deciding on which library prep method to use.
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) vaccine and diagnostic escape mutants are a growing concern. The principle target of detection, hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), encoded by S, is completely overlapped by the reverse transcriptase encoding P. With the increased incidence of nucleos(t)ide analogue resistance altering P, the concurrent impact on S must be assessed. HBV DNA from 59 HBsAg-positive plasma samples was sequenced across the polymerase/surface region and the amino acid sequence of HBsAg was inferred. ELISAs were formatted containing individually bound monoclonal antibodies directed against three discrete epitopes on HBsAg. Similar point mutations occurring in different genotypes were shown to influence epitope conformation differently, indicating that the genetic backbone is a major factor in predicting phenotype. C-terminal changes associated with antiviral resistance were found to modulate epitope profiles of HBsAg. Treatment options which may promote drug resistance should be avoided to both protect antiviral treatment and prevent facilitation of vaccine and diagnostic escape mutants.
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