Discovery of a predominant and distinct lineage of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in Brazilian indigenous population


After nearly a century of vaccination and six decades of drug therapy, tuberculosis (TB) kills more people annually than any other infectious disease. Substantial challenges to disease eradication remain among vulnerable and underserved populations. The Guarani-Kaiowá people are an indigenous population in Paraguay and the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul. This community, marginalized in Brazilian society, experiences severe poverty. Like other South American indigenous populations, their TB prevalence is high, but the disease has remained largely unstudied in their communities. Herein, Mycobacterium tuberculosis isolates from local clinics were whole genome sequenced, and a population genetic framework was generated. Phylogenetics show M. tuberculosis isolates in the Guarani-Kaiowá people cluster away from selected reference strains, suggesting divergence. Most cluster in a single group, further characterized as M. tuberculosis sublineage 4.3.3. Closer analysis of SNPs showed numerous variants across the genome, including in drug resistance-associated genes, and with many unique changes fixed in each group. We report that local M. tuberculosis strains have acquired unique polymorphisms in the Guarani-Kaiowá people, and drug resistance characterization is urgently needed to inform public health to ensure proper care and avoid further evolution and spread of drug-resistant TB.

Scientific Reports