Christopher A Desjardins

Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States

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Publications (36)320.35 Total impact

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    Emerging Infectious Diseases 06/2015; 21(6):1082-4. DOI:10.3201/eid2106.141903 · 7.33 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Obligate intracellular pathogens depend on their host for growth yet must also evade detection by host defenses. Here we investigate host adaptation in two Microsporidia, the specialist Edhazardia aedis and the generalist Vavraia culicis, pathogens of disease vector mosquitoes. Genomic analysis and deep RNA-Seq across infection time courses reveal fundamental differences between these pathogens. E. aedis retains enhanced cell surface modification and signalling capacity, upregulating protein trafficking and secretion dynamically during infection. V. culicis is less dependent on its host for basic metabolites and retains a subset of spliceosomal components, with a transcriptome broadly focused on growth and replication. Transcriptional profiling of mosquito immune responses reveals that response to infection by E. aedis differs dramatically depending on the mode of infection, and that antimicrobial defensins may play a general role in mosquito defense against Microsporidia. This analysis illuminates fundamentally different evolutionary paths and host interplay of specialist and generalist pathogens.
    Nature Communications 05/2015; 6:7121. DOI:10.1038/ncomms8121 · 10.74 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The largest global outbreak of extensively drug-resistant (XDR) tuberculosis (TB) was identified in Tugela Ferry, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), South Africa in 2005. The antecedents and timing of the emergence of drug resistance in this fatal epidemic XDR outbreak are unknown, and it is unclear whether drug resistance in this region continues to be driven by clonal spread or by the development of de novo resistance. A whole genome sequencing and drug susceptibility testing (DST) was performed on 337 clinical isolates of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb) collected in KZN from 2008 to 2013, in addition to three historical isolates, one of which was isolated during the Tugela Ferry outbreak. Using a variety of whole genome comparative approaches, 11 drug-resistant clones of M.tb circulating from 2008 to 2013 were identified, including a 50-member clone of XDR M.tb that was highly related to the Tugela Ferry XDR outbreak strain. It was calculated that the evolutionary trajectory from first-line drug resistance to XDR in this clone spanned more than four decades and began at the start of the antibiotic era. It was also observed that frequent de novo evolution of MDR and XDR was present, with 56 and 9 independent evolutions, respectively. Thus, ongoing amplification of drug-resistance in KwaZulu-Natal is driven by both clonal spread and de novo acquisition of resistance. In drug-resistant TB, isoniazid resistance was overwhelmingly the initial resistance mutation to be acquired, which would not be detected by current rapid molecular diagnostics that assess only rifampicin resistance.
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    ABSTRACT: Microsporidia comprise a phylum of over 1400 species of obligate intracellular pathogens that can infect almost all animals, but little is known about the host response to these parasites. Here we use the whole-animal host C. elegans to show an in vivo role for ubiquitin-mediated response to the microsporidian species Nematocida parisii, as well to the Orsay virus, another natural intracellular pathogen of C. elegans. We analyze gene expression of C. elegans in response to N. parisii, and find that it is similar to response to viral infection. Notably, we find an upregulation of SCF ubiquitin ligase components, such as the cullin ortholog cul-6, which we show is important for ubiquitin targeting of N. parisii cells in the intestine. We show that ubiquitylation components, the proteasome, and the autophagy pathway are all important for defense against N. parisii infection. We also find that SCF ligase components like cul-6 promote defense against viral infection, where they have a more robust role than against N. parisii infection. This difference may be due to suppression of the host ubiquitylation system by N. parisii: when N. parisii is crippled by anti-microsporidia drugs, the host can more effectively target pathogen cells for ubiquitylation. Intriguingly, inhibition of the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) increases expression of infection-upregulated SCF ligase components, indicating that a trigger for transcriptional response to intracellular infection by N. parisii and virus may be perturbation of the UPS. Altogether, our results demonstrate an in vivo role for ubiquitin-mediated defense against microsporidian and viral infections in C. elegans.
    PLoS Pathogens 06/2014; 10(6):e1004200. DOI:10.1371/journal.ppat.1004200 · 8.14 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Background. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) colonization predicts later infection, with both host and pathogen determinants of invasive disease.Methods. This nested case-control study evaluates predictors of MRSA bacteremia in an 8-ICU prospective adult cohort from 9/1/03-4/30/05 with active MRSA surveillance and collection of ICU, post-ICU, and readmission MRSA isolates. We selected MRSA carriers who did (cases) and did not (controls) develop MRSA bacteremia. Generating assembled genome sequences, we evaluated 30 MRSA genes potentially associated with virulence and invasion. Using multivariable Cox proportional hazards regression, we assessed the association of these genes with MRSA bacteremia, controlling for host risk factors.Results. We collected 1,578 MRSA isolates from 520 patients. We analyzed host and pathogen factors for 33 cases and 121 controls. Predictors of MRSA bacteremia included a diagnosis of cancer, presence of a central venous catheter, hyperglycemia (glucose >200), and infection with a MRSA strain carrying the gene for staphylococcal enterotoxin P (sep). Receipt of an anti-MRSA medication had a significant protective effect.Conclusions. Controlling for host factors, colonization with MRSA carrying sep increased risk of MRSA bacteremia. Identification of risk-adjusted genetic determinants of virulence may help to improve prediction of invasive disease and suggest new targets for therapeutic intervention.
    The Journal of Infectious Diseases 02/2014; 209(4):571-7. DOI:10.1093/infdis/jit501 · 5.78 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Listeria monocytogenes, a foodborne bacterial pathogen, is comprised of four phylogenetic lineages that vary with regard to their serotypes and distribution among sources. In order to characterize lineage-specific genomic diversity within L. monocytogenes, we sequenced the genomes of eight strains from several lineages and serotypes, and characterized the accessory genome, which was hypothesized to contribute to phenotypic differences across lineages. The eight L. monocytogenes genomes sequenced range in size from 2.85-3.14 Mb, encode 2,822-3,187 genes, and include the first publicly available sequenced representatives of serotypes 1/2c, 3a and 4c. Mapping of the distribution of accessory genes revealed two distinct regions of the L. monocytogenes chromosome: an accessory-rich region in the first 65° adjacent to the origin of replication and a more stable region in the remaining 295°. This pattern of genome organization is distinct from that of related bacteria Staphylococcus aureus and Bacillus cereus. The accessory genome of all lineages is enriched for cell surface-related genes and phosphotransferase systems, and transcriptional regulators, highlighting the selective pressures faced by contemporary strains from their hosts, other microbes, and their environment. Phylogenetic analysis of O-antigen genes and gene clusters predicts that serotype 4 was ancestral in L. monocytogenes and serotype 1/2 associated gene clusters were putatively introduced through horizontal gene transfer in the ancestral population of L. monocytogenes lineage I and II.
    PLoS ONE 06/2013; 8(6):e67511. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0067511 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Loa loa, the African eyeworm, is a major filarial pathogen of humans. Unlike most filariae, L. loa does not contain the obligate intracellular Wolbachia endosymbiont. We describe the 91.4-Mb genome of L. loa and that of the related filarial parasite Wuchereria bancrofti and predict 14,907 L. loa genes on the basis of microfilarial RNA sequencing. By comparing these genomes to that of another filarial parasite, Brugia malayi, and to those of several other nematodes, we demonstrate synteny among filariae but not with nonparasitic nematodes. The L. loa genome encodes many immunologically relevant genes, as well as protein kinases targeted by drugs currently approved for use in humans. Despite lacking Wolbachia, L. loa shows no new metabolic synthesis or transport capabilities compared to other filariae. These results suggest that the role of Wolbachia in filarial biology is more subtle than previously thought and reveal marked differences between parasitic and nonparasitic nematodes.
    Nature Genetics 03/2013; 45(5). DOI:10.1038/ng.2585 · 29.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Nasonia, a genus of four closely related parasitoid insect species, is a model system for genetic research. Their haplodiploid genetics (haploid males and diploid females) and interfertile species are advantageous for the genetic analysis of complex traits and the genetic basis of species differences. A fine-scale genomic map is an important tool for advancing genetic studies in this system. We developed and used a hybrid genotyping microarray to generate a high-resolution genetic map that covers 79% of the sequenced genome of Nasonia vitripennis. The microarray is based on differential hybridization of species-specific oligos between N. vitripennis and Nasonia giraulti at more than 20,000 markers spanning the Nasonia genome. The map places 729 scaffolds onto the five linkage groups of Nasonia, including locating many smaller scaffolds that would be difficult to map by other means. The microarray was used to characterize 26 segmental introgression lines containing chromosomal regions from one species in the genetic background of another. These segmental introgression lines have been used for rapid screening and mapping of quantitative trait loci involved in species differences. Finally, the microarray is extended to bulk-segregant analysis and genotyping of other Nasonia species combinations. These resources should further expand the usefulness of Nasonia for studies of the genetic basis and architecture of complex traits and speciation.
    G3-Genes Genomes Genetics 02/2013; 3(2):205-15. DOI:10.1534/g3.112.004739 · 2.51 Impact Factor
  • Nature 01/2013; 504:248-253. · 42.35 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The enterococci are Gram-positive lactic acid bacteria that inhabit the gastrointestinal tracts of diverse hosts. However, Enterococcus faecium and E. faecalis have emerged as leading causes of multidrug-resistant hospital-acquired infections. The mechanism by which a well-adapted commensal evolved into a hospital pathogen is poorly understood. In this study, we examined high-quality draft genome data for evidence of key events in the evolution of the leading causes of enterococcal infections, including E. faecalis, E. faecium, E. casseliflavus, and E. gallinarum. We characterized two clades within what is currently classified as E. faecium and identified traits characteristic of each, including variation in operons for cell wall carbohydrate and putative capsule biosynthesis. We examined the extent of recombination between the two E. faecium clades and identified two strains with mosaic genomes. We determined the underlying genetics for the defining characteristics of the motile enterococci E. casseliflavus and E. gallinarum. Further, we identified species-specific traits that could be used to advance the detection of medically relevant enterococci and their identification to the species level. IMPORTANCE: The enterococci, in particular, vancomycin-resistant enterococci, have emerged as leading causes of multidrug-resistant hospital-acquired infections. In this study, we examined genome sequence data to define traits with the potential to influence host-microbe interactions and to identify sequences and biochemical functions that could form the basis for the rapid identification of enterococcal species or lineages of importance in clinical and environmental samples.
    mBio 12/2012; 3(1):e00318-11. DOI:10.1128/mBio.00318-11 · 6.88 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Microsporidia comprise a large phylum of obligate intracellular eukaryotes that are fungal-related parasites responsible for widespread disease, and here we address questions about microsporidia biology and evolution. We sequenced three microsporidian genomes from two species, Nematocida parisii and Nematocida sp1, which are natural pathogens of Caenorhabditis nematodes and provide model systems for studying microsporidian pathogenesis. We performed deep sequencing of transcripts from a time course of N. parisii infection. Examination of pathogen gene expression revealed compact transcripts and a dramatic takeover of host cells by Nematocida. We also performed phylogenomic analyses of Nematocida and other microsporidian genomes to refine microsporidian phylogeny and identify evolutionary events of gene loss, acquisition, and modification. In particular, we found that all microsporidia lost the tumor-suppressor gene retinoblastoma, which we speculate could accelerate the parasite cell cycle and increase the mutation rate. We also found that microsporidia acquired transporters that could import nucleosides to fuel rapid growth. In addition, microsporidian hexokinases gained secretion signal sequences, and in a functional assay these were sufficient to export proteins out of the cell; thus hexokinase may be targeted into the host cell to reprogram it toward biosynthesis. Similar molecular changes appear during formation of cancer cells and may be evolutionary strategies adopted independently by microsporidia to proliferate rapidly within host cells. Finally, analysis of genome polymorphisms revealed evidence for a sexual cycle that may provide genetic diversity to alleviate problems caused by clonal growth. Together these events may explain the emergence and success of these diverse intracellular parasites.
    Genome Research 07/2012; 22(12). DOI:10.1101/gr.142802.112 · 13.85 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) strains are leading causes of hospital-acquired infections in the United States, and clonal cluster 5 (CC5) is the predominant lineage responsible for these infections. Since 2002, there have been 12 cases of vancomycin-resistant S. aureus (VRSA) infection in the United States—all CC5 strains. To understand this genetic background and what distinguishes it from other lineages, we generated and analyzed high-quality draft genome sequences for all available VRSA strains. Sequence comparisons show unambiguously that each strain independently acquired Tn1546 and that all VRSA strains last shared a common ancestor over 50 years ago, well before the occurrence of vancomycin resistance in this species. In contrast to existing hypotheses on what predisposes this lineage to acquire Tn1546, the barrier posed by restriction systems appears to be intact in most VRSA strains. However, VRSA (and other CC5) strains were found to possess a constellation of traits that appears to be optimized for proliferation in precisely the types of polymicrobic infection where transfer could occur. They lack a bacteriocin operon that would be predicted to limit the occurrence of non-CC5 strains in mixed infection and harbor a cluster of unique superantigens and lipoproteins to confound host immunity. A frameshift in dprA, which in other microbes influences uptake of foreign DNA, may also make this lineage conducive to foreign DNA acquisition.
    mBio 04/2012; 3(3). DOI:10.1128/mBio.00112-12 · 6.88 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Segniliparus rugosus represents one of two species in the genus Segniliparus, the sole genus in the family Segniliparaceae. A unique and interesting feature of this family is the presence of extremely long carbon-chain length mycolic acids bound in the cell wall. S. rugosus is also a medically important species because it is an opportunistic pathogen associated with mammalian lung disease. This report represents the second species in the genus to have its genome sequenced. The 3,567,567 bp long genome with 3,516 protein-coding and 49 RNA genes is part of the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research, Human Microbiome Project.
    Standards in Genomic Sciences 12/2011; 5(3):389-97. DOI:10.4056/sigs.2255041 · 3.17 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Paracoccidioides is a fungal pathogen and the cause of paracoccidioidomycosis, a health-threatening human systemic mycosis endemic to Latin America. Infection by Paracoccidioides, a dimorphic fungus in the order Onygenales, is coupled with a thermally regulated transition from a soil-dwelling filamentous form to a yeast-like pathogenic form. To better understand the genetic basis of growth and pathogenicity in Paracoccidioides, we sequenced the genomes of two strains of Paracoccidioides brasiliensis (Pb03 and Pb18) and one strain of Paracoccidioides lutzii (Pb01). These genomes range in size from 29.1 Mb to 32.9 Mb and encode 7,610 to 8,130 genes. To enable genetic studies, we mapped 94% of the P. brasiliensis Pb18 assembly onto five chromosomes. We characterized gene family content across Onygenales and related fungi, and within Paracoccidioides we found expansions of the fungal-specific kinase family FunK1. Additionally, the Onygenales have lost many genes involved in carbohydrate metabolism and fewer genes involved in protein metabolism, resulting in a higher ratio of proteases to carbohydrate active enzymes in the Onygenales than their relatives. To determine if gene content correlated with growth on different substrates, we screened the non-pathogenic onygenale Uncinocarpus reesii, which has orthologs for 91% of Paracoccidioides metabolic genes, for growth on 190 carbon sources. U. reesii showed growth on a limited range of carbohydrates, primarily basic plant sugars and cell wall components; this suggests that Onygenales, including dimorphic fungi, can degrade cellulosic plant material in the soil. In addition, U. reesii grew on gelatin and a wide range of dipeptides and amino acids, indicating a preference for proteinaceous growth substrates over carbohydrates, which may enable these fungi to also degrade animal biomass. These capabilities for degrading plant and animal substrates suggest a duality in lifestyle that could enable pathogenic species of Onygenales to transfer from soil to animal hosts.
    PLoS Genetics 10/2011; 7(10):e1002345. DOI:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002345 · 8.17 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Author Summary Biofuels research is focused on understanding the energy-related metabolic capabilities of a broad range of biological species. To this end we sequenced the genome of Rhodococcus opacus PD630, a bacterium that accumulates close to 80% of its cellular dry weight in oil, a rare trait in the prokaryotic and eukaryotic kingdoms. R. opacus PD630 has a large 9.27 Mb genome that contains many homologous genes dedicated to lipid metabolism. The number and novelty of these predicted genes presents a challenge to the complete and accurate metabolic reconstruction of this species' metabolism based only on genome sequence. To refine our sequence-based metabolic reconstruction, we developed a multidisciplinary approach that included integrating the identification of abundant yet uncommon straight-chain odd-carbon lipid biosynthesis and the results of a catabolic screen for growth substrates. Comparative analysis of the R. opacus PD630 genome sequence with those of a group of related species provided a view into how this bacterium became such a remarkable TAGs producer and led to the identification of a set of biofuels target genes for this group of bacteria. Our synthesis of genome sequence and phenotypic information supports a model for the genetic basis for prokaryotic oleaginy and provides key insights for the engineering of next-generation biofuels with genes that are conserved in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic kingdoms.
    PLoS Genetics 09/2011; 7(9):e1002219. DOI:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002219 · 8.17 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The fission yeast clade—comprising Schizosaccharomyces pombe, S. octosporus, S. cryophilus, and S. japonicus—occupies the basal branch of Ascomycete fungi and is an important model of eukaryote biology. A comparative annotation of these genomes identified a near extinction of transposons and the associated innovation of transposon-free centromeres. Expression analysis established that meiotic genes are subject to antisense transcription during vegetative growth, which suggests a mechanism for their tight regulation. In addition, trans-acting regulators control new genes within the context of expanded functional modules for meiosis and stress response. Differences in gene content and regulation also explain why, unlike the budding yeast of Saccharomycotina, fission yeasts cannot use ethanol as a primary carbon source. These analyses elucidate the genome structure and gene regulation of fission yeast and provide tools for investigation across the Schizosaccharomyces clade.
    Science 05/2011; 332(6032):930-6. DOI:10.1126/science.1203357 · 31.48 Impact Factor
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    PLoS Genetics 01/2011; 7(10):e1002345. · 8.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Wolbachia infect a variety of arthropod and nematode hosts, but in arthropods, host phylogenetic relationships are usually poor predictors of strain similarity. This suggests that new infections are often established by horizontal transmission. To gain insight into the factors affecting the probability of horizontal transmission among host species, we ask how host phylogeny, geographical distribution and ecology affect patterns of Wolbachia strain similarity. We used multilocus sequence typing (MLST) to characterize Wolbachia strain similarity among dipteran hosts associated with fleshy mushrooms. Wolbachia Supergroup A was more common than Supergroup B in Diptera, and also more common in mycophagous than non-mycophagous Diptera. Within Supergroup A, host family within Diptera had no effect on strain similarity, and there was no tendency for Wolbachia strains from sympatric host species to be more similar to one another than to strains from hosts in different biogeographical realms. Supergroup A strains differed between mycophagous and non-mycophagous Diptera more than expected by chance, suggesting that ecological associations can facilitate horizontal transmission of Wolbachia within mycophagous fly communities. For Supergroup B, there were no significant associations between strain similarity and host phylogeny, biogeography, or ecology. We identified only two cases in which closely related hosts carried closely related Wolbachia strains, evidence that Wolbachia-host co-speciation or early introgression can occur but may not be a major contributor to overall strain diversity. Our results suggest that horizontal transmission of Wolbachia can be influenced by host ecology, thus leading to partial restriction of Wolbachia strains or strain groups to particular guilds of insects.
    Molecular Ecology 05/2010; 19(9):1940-52. DOI:10.1111/j.1365-294X.2010.04572.x · 6.49 Impact Factor
  • Science 03/2010; 327(5973):1577-1577. · 31.48 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

1k Citations
320.35 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2011–2015
    • Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard
      • Genome Sequencing and Analysis Program
      Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
  • 2013
    • Indiana University Bloomington
      Bloomington, Indiana, United States
  • 2012
    • Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute
      Cambridge, England, United Kingdom
  • 2010
    • Ghent University
      • Laboratory for Protein Biochemistry and Biomolecular Engineering (L-ProBE)
      Gand, Flanders, Belgium
  • 2007–2010
    • University of Rochester
      • Department of Biology
      Rochester, New York, United States
    • University of Maryland, College Park
      • Department of Entomology
      Maryland, United States
  • 2005
    • Biomedical Research Institute, Rockville
      Maryland, United States