Limitations of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis reference genome H37Rv in the detection of virulence-related loci Academic Article uri icon


  • The genome sequence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis strain H37Rv is an important and valuable reference point in the study of M. tuberculosis phylogeny, molecular epidemiology, and drug-resistance mutations. However, it is becoming apparent that use of H37Rv as a sole reference genome in analysing clinical isolates presents some limitations to fully investigating M. tuberculosis virulence. Here, we examine the presence of single locus variants and the absence of entire genes in H37Rv with respect to strains that are responsible for cases and outbreaks of tuberculosis. We discuss how these polymorphisms may affect phenotypic properties of H37Rv including pathogenicity. Based on our observations and those of other researchers, we propose that use of a single reference genome, H37Rv, is not sufficient for the detection and characterisation of M. tuberculosis virulence-related loci. We recommend incorporation of genome sequences of other reference strains, in particular, direct clinical isolates, in such analyses in addition to H37Rv.

publication date

  • 2017