A complete high-quality MinION nanopore assembly of an extensively drug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis Beijing lineage strain identifies novel variation in repetitive PE/PPE gene regions

A better understanding of the genomic changes that facilitate the emergence and spread of drug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis strains is currently required. Here, we report the use of the MinION nanopore sequencer (Oxford Nanopore Technologies) to sequence and assemble an extensively drug-resistant (XDR) isolate, which is part of a modern Beijing sub-lineage strain, prevalent in Western Province, Papua New Guinea. Using 238-fold coverage obtained from a single flow-cell, de novo assembly of nanopore reads resulted into one contiguous assembly with 99.92 % assembly accuracy. Incorporation of complementary short read sequences (Illumina) as part of consensus error correction resulted in a 4 404 064 bp genome with 99.98 % assembly accuracy. This assembly had an average nucleotide identity of 99.7 % relative to the reference genome, H37Rv. We assembled nearly all GC-rich repetitive PE/PPE family genes (166/168) and identified variants within these genes. With an estimated genotypic error rate of 5.3 % from MinION data, we demonstrated identification of variants to include the conventional drug resistance mutations, and those that contribute to the resistance phenotype (efflux pumps/transporter) and virulence. Reference-based alignment of the assembly allowed detection of deletions and insertions. MinION sequencing provided a fully annotated assembly of a transmissible XDR strain from an endemic setting and showed its utility to provide further understanding of genomic processes within Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

Authors: Arnold Bainomugisa, Tania Duarte, Evelyn Lavu, Sushil Pandey, Chris Coulter, Ben Marais, Lachlan Coin