J Infect Chemother. 2021 Jul 6:S1341-321X(21)00181-1. doi: 10.1016/j.jiac.2021.06.020. Online ahead of print.
INTRODUCTION: Rifampicin (RIF) is one of the most effective anti-tuberculosis first-line drugs prescribed along with isoniazid. However, the emergence of RIF resistance Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) isolates is a major issue towards tuberculosis (TB) control program in high MDR TB-burdened countries including Pakistan. Molecular data behind phenotypic resistance is essential for better management of RIF resistance which has been linked with mutations in rpoB gene. Since molecular studies on RIF resistance is limited in Pakistan, the current study was aimed to investigate the molecular data of mutations in rpoB gene behind phenotypic RIF resistance isolates in Pakistan.
METHOD: A total of 322 phenotypically RIF-resistant isolates were randomly selected from National TB Reference Laboratory, Pakistan for sequencing while 380 RIF resistance whole-genome sequencing (WGS) of Pakistani isolates (BioProject PRJEB25972), were also analyzed for rpoB mutations.
RESULT: Among the 702 RIF resistance samples, 675 (96.1%) isolates harbored mutations in rpoB in which 663 (94.4%) were detected within the Rifampicin Resistance Determining Region (RRDR) also known as a mutation hot spot region, including three novel. Among these mutations, 657 (97.3%) were substitutions including 603 (89.3%) single nucleotide polymorphism, 49 (7.25%) double and five (0.8%) triple. About 94.4% of Phenotypic RIF resistance strains, exhibited mutations in RRDR, which were also detectable by GeneXpert.
CONCLUSION: Mutations in the RRDR region of rpoB is a major mechanism of RIF resistance in MTB circulating isolates in Pakistan. Molecular detection of drug resistance is a faster and better approach than phenotypic drug susceptibility testing to reduce the time for transmission of RIF resistance strains in population. Such insights will inform the deployment of anti-TB drug regimens and disease control tools and strategies in high burden settings, such as Pakistan.