Mycobacterium africanum (Maf) causes a substantial proportion of human tuberculosis in some countries of West Africa, but little is known on this pathogen. We compared the genomes of 253 Maf clinical isolates from Ghana, including N = 175 Lineage 5 (L5) and N = 78 Lineage 6 (L6). We found that the genomic diversity of L6 was higher than in L5 despite the smaller sample size. Regulatory proteins appeared to evolve neutrally in L5 but under purifying selection in L6. Even though over 90% of the human T cell epitopes were conserved in both lineages, L6 showed a higher ratio of non-synonymous to synonymous single nucleotide variation in these epitopes overall compared to L5. Of the 10% human T cell epitopes that were variable, most carried mutations that were lineage-specific. Our findings indicate that Maf L5 and L6 differ in some of their population genomic characteristics, possibly reflecting different selection pressures linked to distinct ecological niches.
- TUBERCULOSIS COMPLEX STRAINS