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Title: Host and pathogen genetics associated with pneumococcal meningitis
Author: Lees, John Andrew
ISNI:       0000 0004 7224 9104
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2017
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Meningitis is an infection of the meninges, a layer of tissue surrounding the brain. In cases of pneumococcal meningitis (where the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae is the causat- ive agent) this causes severe inflammation, requiring intensive care and rapid antibiotic treatment. The contribution of variation in host and pathogen genetics to pneumococcal meningitis is unknown. In this thesis I develop and apply statistical genetics techniques to identify genomic variation associated with the various stages of pneumococcal meningitis, including colonisation, invasion and severity. I start by describing the development of a method to perform genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in bacteria, which can find variation in bacterial genomes associated with bacterial traits such as antibiotic resistance and virulence. I then applied this method to longitudinal samples from asymptomatic carriage, and found lineages and specific variants associated with altered duration of carriage. To assess meningitis versus carriage samples I applied similar analysis techniques, and found that the bacterial genome is crucial in determining invasive potential. As well as bacterial serotype, which I found to be the main effect, I discovered many independent sequence variants associated with disease. Separately, I analysed within host-diversity during the invasive phase of disease and found it to be of less relevance to disease progression. Finally, I analysed host genotype data from four independent studies using GWAS and heritability estimates to determine the contribution of human sequence variation to pneumococcal meningitis. Host sequence accounted for some variation in susceptibility to and severity of meningitis. The work concludes with a combined analysis of pairs of bacterial and human sequences from meningitis cases, and finds variation correlated between the two.
Supervisor: Bentley, Stephen Damien ; Barrett, Jeffrey ; Parkhill, Julian Sponsor: Wellcome Trust ; Medical Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: meningitis ; genome-wide association study ; streptococcus pneumoniae ; neisseria meningitidis ; pneumococcus ; bacteremia ; human genetics ; pathogen genomics ; statistical genetics ; within-host evolution ; asymptomatic carriage ; carriage duration ; invasive disease