Gene Sequencing for Routine Verification of Pyrazinamide Resistance in Mycobacterium tuberculosis: a Role for pncA but Not rpsA

Public Health Ontario, Public Health Laboratories, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Journal of clinical microbiology (Impact Factor: 4.23). 08/2012; 50(11):3726-8. DOI: 10.1128/JCM.00620-12
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Pyrazinamide (PZA) is an important component of first-line therapy for the treatment of tuberculosis. Here, we evaluate targeted gene sequencing as a supplement to phenotypic PZA susceptibility testing of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Routine sequencing of pncA, but not rpsA, is effective for verification of PZA susceptibility results.

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    ABSTRACT: Pyrazinamide (PZA) is a prodrug that is converted to pyrazinoic acid by the enzyme pyrazinamidase, encoded by the pncA gene in Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Molecular identification of mutations in pncA offers the potential for rapid detection of pyrazinamide resistance (PZA(r)). However, the genetic variants are highly variable and scattered over the full length of pncA, complicating the development of a molecular test. We performed a large multicenter study assessing pncA sequence variations in 1,950 clinical isolates, including 1,142 multidrug-resistant (MDR) strains and 483 fully susceptible strains. The results of pncA sequencing were correlated with phenotype, enzymatic activity, and structural and phylogenetic data. We identified 280 genetic variants which were divided into four classes: (i) very high confidence resistance mutations that were found only in PZA(r) strains (85%), (ii) high-confidence resistance mutations found in more than 70% of PZA(r) strains, (iii) mutations with an unclear role found in less than 70% of PZA(r) strains, and (iv) mutations not associated with phenotypic resistance (10%). Any future molecular diagnostic assay should be able to target and identify at least the very high and high-confidence genetic variant markers of PZA(r); the diagnostic accuracy of such an assay would be in the range of 89.5 to 98.8%.
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    ABSTRACT: The mechanism of action of pyrazinamide, a key sterilizing drug in the treatment of tuberculosis, remains elusive; pyrazinamide is a pro-drug that requires activation by a bacterial-encoded enzyme, and its activity is most apparent on non-replicating Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Recently, it has been suggested that pyrazinamide might exert also some host-directed effect in addition to its antimicrobial activity. To address this possibility, three sequential experiments were conducted in immune-competent BALB/c and in immune-deficient, athymic nude mice. In the first experiment, BALB/c mice infected with M. bovis, which is naturally resistant to pyrazinamide because it is unable to activate the drug, were treated with standard drug regimens with and without pyrazinamide to specifically detect a host-directed effect. As no effect was observed, pyrazinamide activity was compared in M. tuberculosis-infected BALB/c and nude mice to determine whether the effect of pyrazinamide would be reduced in the immune deficient mice. As pyrazinamide did not appear to have any affect in the nude mice, a third experiment was performed in which rifampin was replaced with rifapentine (a similar drug with a longer half-life) to permanently suppress mycobacterial growth. In these experimental conditions, the antimicrobial effect of pyrazinamide was clear. Therefore, the results of our studies rule out a significant host-directed effect of pyrazinamide in the TB infected host.
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