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PLoS One. 2015 Dec 14;10(12):e0143682. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0143682. eCollection 2015.

Mycobacterium tuberculosis Type II Toxin-Antitoxin Systems: Genetic Polymorphisms and Functional Properties and the Possibility of Their Use for Genotyping.

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Vavilov Institute of General Genetics, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia.
Scientific Research Center for Biotechnology of Antibiotics "BIOAN", Moscow, Russia.
State University, Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, Moscow, Russia.
Central Research Institute of Tuberculosis, Moscow, Russia.


Various genetic markers such as IS-elements, DR-elements, variable number tandem repeats (VNTR), single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in housekeeping genes and other groups of genes are being used for genotyping. We propose a different approach. We suggest the type II toxin-antitoxin (TA) systems, which play a significant role in the formation of pathogenicity, tolerance and persistence phenotypes, and thus in the survival of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in the host organism at various developmental stages (colonization, infection of macrophages, etc.), as the marker genes. Most genes of TA systems function together, forming a single network: an antitoxin from one pair may interact with toxins from other pairs and even from other families. In this work a bioinformatics analysis of genes of the type II TA systems from 173 sequenced genomes of M. tuberculosis was performed. A number of genes of type II TA systems were found to carry SNPs that correlate with specific genotypes. We propose a minimally sufficient set of genes of TA systems for separation of M. tuberculosis strains at nine basic genotype and for further division into subtypes. Using this set of genes, we genotyped a collection consisting of 62 clinical isolates of M. tuberculosis. The possibility of using our set of genes for genotyping using PCR is also demonstrated.

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