The genetic structure of Neisseria meningitidis populations in Cuba before and after the introduction of a serogroup BC vaccine.
Climent Y., Urwin R., Yero D., Martinez I., Martín A., Sotolongo F., Maiden MCJ., Pajón R.
We investigated the population genetics in collections of meningococci sampled in Cuba during the period 1983-2005, thereby covering a period before and after the introduction of an antimeningococcal B-C vaccine. A total of 163 case isolates and 210 isolates from healthy carriers were characterized by multilocus sequence typing (MLST) and sequence determination of porA, porB and fetA genes. A total of 56 sequence types (STs) including 28 new STs were identified among these isolates. The analysis of surface antigens revealed variants 3-1 and 3-8 to be prevalent for porB; variant F5-1 was the most common FetA epitope, and variants 19 and 15 corresponded to the prevalent variable regions 1 (VR1) and VR2 PorA epitopes, respectively. The strongest associations between specific surface protein variants and clonal complexes were detected in lineages ST-32 and ST-53. All ST-32 complex isolates possessed porB3 alleles, and the most frequent antigen combination among ST-32 complex isolates was P1.19,15;F5-1. Variants PorB3-64 at PorB and P1.30 at PorA VR2, in combination with the PorA VR1 variants P1.12-1, P1.7 and P1.7-2 as well as the FetA variants F1-2 and F1-7, dominated the ST-53 complex organisms. Furthermore, we observed a statistically significant association between the most frequent porA, porB and fetA alleles and strain invasiveness. Finally, this study showed that the application of VA-MENGOC-BC((R)), the Cuban antimeningococcal vaccine, reduced the number and frequency of the hypervirulent Clonal Complexes ST-32 and ST-41/44, and also impacted on other lineages. The vaccine also affected the genetic composition of the carrier-associated meningococcal isolates. The number of carrier isolates belonging to hypervirulent lineages decreased significantly after vaccination, and ST-53, a sequence type common in carriers, became the predominant ST.