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Invasive meningococcal disease (IMD) due to serogroup Y Neisseria meningitidis emerged in Europe during the 2000s. Draft genomes of serogroup Y isolates in Sweden revealed that although the population structure of these isolates was similar to other serogroup Y isolates internationally, a distinct strain (YI) and more specifically a sublineage (1) of this strain was responsible for the increase of serogroup Y IMD in Sweden. We performed single molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing on eight serogroup Y isolates from different sublineages to unravel the genetic and epigenetic factors delineating them, in order to understand the serogroup Y emergence. Extensive comparisons between the serogroup Y sublineages of all coding sequences, complex genomic regions, intergenic regions, and methylation motifs revealed small point mutations in genes mainly encoding hypothetical and metabolic proteins, and non-synonymous variants in genes involved in adhesion, iron acquisition, and endotoxin production. The methylation motif CACNNNNNTAC was only found in isolates of sublineage 2. Only seven genes were putatively differentially expressed, and another two genes encoding hypothetical proteins were only present in sublineage 2. These data suggest that the serogroup Y IMD increase in Sweden was most probably due to small changes in genes important for colonization and transmission.

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