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Comparative genomics of disease and carriage serotype 1 pneumococci.

Abstract

The isolation of Streptococcus pneumoniae serotypes in systemic tissues of patients with invasive disease versus the nasopharynx of healthy individuals with asymptomatic carriage varies widely. Some serotypes are hyper-invasive, particularly serotype 1, but the underlying genetics remain poorly understood due to the rarity of carriage isolates, reducing the power of comparison with invasive isolates. Here, we use a well-controlled genome-wide association study to search for genetic variation associated with invasiveness of serotype 1 pneumococci from a serotype 1 endemic setting in Africa. We found no consensus evidence that certain genomic variation is overrepresented among isolates from patients with invasive disease than asymptomatic carriage. Overall, the genomic variation explained negligible phenotypic variability, suggesting a minimal effect on the disease status. Furthermore, changes in lineage distribution were seen with lineages replacing each other over time, highlighting the importance of continued pathogen surveillance. Our findings suggest that the hyper-invasiveness is an intrinsic property of the serotype 1 strains, not specific for a "disease-associated" subpopulation disproportionately harbouring unique genomic variation.

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