Vaccine 2016 08 2934(41) 4884-91 doi 10.1016/j.vaccine.2016.08.059
Brucella melitensis Rev.1 is an avirulent strain that is widely used as a live vaccine to control brucellosis in small ruminants. Although an assembled draft version of Rev.1 genome has been available since 2009, this genome has not been investigated to characterize this important vaccine. In the present work, we used the draft genome of Rev.1 to perform a thorough genomic comparison and sequence analysis to identify and characterize the panel of its unique genetic markers. The draft genome of Rev.1 was compared with genome sequences of 36 different Brucella melitensis strains from the Brucella project of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. The comparative analyses revealed 32 genetic alterations (30 SNPs, 1 single-bp insertion and 1 single-bp deletion) that are exclusively present in the Rev.1 genome. In silico analyses showed that 9 out of the 17 non-synonymous mutations are deleterious. Three ABC transporters are among the disrupted genes that can be linked to virulence attenuation. Out of the 32 mutations, 11 Rev.1 specific markers were selected to test their potential to discriminate Rev.1 using a bi-directional allele-specific PCR assay. Six markers were able to distinguish between Rev.1 and a set of control strains. We succeeded in identifying a panel of 32 genome-specific markers of the B. melitensis Rev.1 vaccine strain. Extensive in silico analysis showed that a considerable number of these mutations could severely affect the function of the associated genes. In addition, some of the discovered markers were able to discriminate Rev.1 strain from a group of control strains using practical PCR tests that can be applied in resource-limited settings.