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BacCapSeq: a Platform for Diagnosis and Characterization of Bacterial Infections

Allicock, Orchid M.; Guo, Cheng; Uhlemann, Anne-Catrin; Whittier, Susan; Chauhan, Lokendra V.; Garcia, Joel A.; Price, Adam R.; Morse, Stephen S.; Mishra, Nischay; Briese, Thomas; Lipkin, W. Ian

We report a platform that increases the sensitivity of high-throughput sequencing for detection and characterization of bacteria, virulence determinants, and antimicrobial resistance (AMR) genes. The system uses a probe set comprised of 4.2 million oligonucleotides based on the Pathosystems Resource Integration Center (PATRIC) database, the Comprehensive Antibiotic Resistance Database (CARD), and the Virulence Factor Database (VFDB), representing 307 bacterial species that include all known human-pathogenic species, known antimicrobial resistance genes, and known virulence factors, respectively. The use of bacterial capture sequencing (BacCapSeq) resulted in an up to 1,000-fold increase in bacterial reads from blood samples and lowered the limit of detection by 1 to 2 orders of magnitude compared to conventional unbiased high-throughput sequencing, down to a level comparable to that of agent-specific real-time PCR with as few as 5 million total reads generated per sample. It detected not only the presence of AMR genes but also biomarkers for AMR that included both constitutive and differentially expressed transcripts.

IMPORTANCE BacCapSeq is a method for differential diagnosis of bacterial infections and defining antimicrobial sensitivity profiles that has the potential to reduce morbidity and mortality, health care costs, and the inappropriate use of antibiotics that contributes to the development of antimicrobial resistance.

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