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Shuaib, Yassir A.; Utpatel, Christian; Kohl, Thomas A.; Barilar, Ivan; Diricks, Margo; Ashraf, Nadia; Wieler, Lothar H.; Kerubo, Glennah; Mesfin, Eyob A.; Diallo, Awa Ba; Al-Hajoj, Sahal; Ndung'u, Perpetua; Fitzgibbon, Margaret M.; Vaziri, Farzam; Sintchenko, Vitali; Martinez, Elena; Viegas, Sofia O.; Zhou, Yang; Azmy, Aya; Al-Amry, Khaled; Godreuil, Sylvain; Varma-Basil, Mandira; Narang, Anshika; Ali, Solomon; Beckert, Patrick; Dreyer, Viola; Kabwe, Mwila; Bates, Matthew; Hoelscher, Michael; Rachow, Andrea; Gori, Andrea; Tekwu, Emmanuel M.; Sidze, Larissa K.; Jean-Paul, Assam A.; Beng, Veronique P.; Ntoumi, Francine; Frank, Matthias; Diallo, Aissatou Gaye; Mboup, Souleymane; Tessema, Belay; Beyene, Dereje; Khan, Sadiq N.; Diel, Roland; Supply, Philip; Maurer, Florian P.; Hoffmann, Harald; Niemann, Stefan and Merker, Matthias (2022): Origin and Global Expansion of Mycobacterium tuberculosis Complex Lineage 3. In: Genes, Vol. 13, No. 6, 990

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Simple Summary Tuberculosis still causes 1.5 million deaths annually and is mainly caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex strains belonging to three evolutionary modern lineages (Lineages 2-4). While Lineage 2 and Lineage 4 virtually conquered the world, Lineage 3 is particularly successful in Northern and Eastern Africa, as well as in Southern Asia, the suspected evolutionary origin of these strains. Here, we sought to understand how Lineage 3 strains came to the African continent. To this end, we performed routine genotyping to characterize over 2500 clinical isolates from 38 countries. We then selected a representative collection of 373 isolates for a whole-genome analysis and a modeling approach to infer the geographic origin of different sublineages. In fact, the origin of Lineage 3 could be located in India, and we found evidence for independent introductions of four distinct sublineages into North/East Africa, in line with known ancient exchanges and migrations between both world regions. Our study illustrates that the evolutionary history of humans and their pathogens are closely connected and further provides a systematic understanding of the genomic diversity of Lineage 3, which could be important for the development of new tuberculosis vaccines or new therapeutics. Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTBC) Lineage 3 (L3) strains are abundant in world regions with the highest tuberculosis burden. To investigate the population structure and the global diversity of this major lineage, we analyzed a dataset comprising 2682 L3 strains from 38 countries over 5 continents, by employing 24-loci mycobacterial interspersed repetitive unit-variable number of tandem repeats genotyping (MIRU-VNTR) and drug susceptibility testing. We further combined whole-genome sequencing (WGS) and phylogeographic analysis for 373 strains representing the global L3 genetic diversity. Ancestral state reconstruction confirmed that the origin of L3 strains is located in Southern Asia and further revealed multiple independent introduction events into North-East and East Africa. This study provides a systematic understanding of the global diversity of L3 strains and reports phylogenetic variations that could inform clinical trials which evaluate the effectivity of new drugs/regimens or vaccine candidates.

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