Grankvist A, Jaén-Luchoro D, Wass L, Sikora P, Wennerås C
Microorganisms 9 (7) - [2021-07-13; online 2021-07-13]
Tick-borne 'Neoehrlichia (N.) mikurensis' is the cause of neoehrlichiosis, an infectious vasculitis of humans. This strict intracellular pathogen is a member of the family Anaplasmataceae and has been unculturable until recently. The only available genetic data on this new pathogen are six partially sequenced housekeeping genes. The aim of this study was to advance the knowledge regarding 'N. mikurensis' genomic relatedness with other Anaplasmataceae members, intra-species genotypic variability and potential virulence factors explaining its tropism for vascular endothelium. Here, we present the de novo whole-genome sequences of three 'N. mikurensis' strains derived from Swedish patients diagnosed with neoehrlichiosis. The genomes were obtained by extraction of DNA from patient plasma, library preparation using 10× Chromium technology, and sequencing by Illumina Hiseq-4500. 'N. mikurensis' was found to have the next smallest genome of the Anaplasmataceae family (1.1 Mbp with 27% GC contents) consisting of 845 protein-coding genes, every third of which with unknown function. Comparative genomic analyses revealed that 'N. mikurensis' was more closely related to Ehrlichia chaffeensis than to Ehrlichia ruminantium, the opposite of what 16SrRNA sequence-based phylogenetic analyses determined. The genetic variability of the three whole-genome-sequenced 'N. mikurensis' strains was extremely low, between 0.14 and 0.22‰, a variation that was associated with geographic origin. No protein-coding genes exclusively shared by N. mikurensis and E. ruminantium were identified to explain their common tropism for vascular endothelium.