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Members of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTBC) are the causative agents of tuberculosis in a range of mammals, including humans. A key feature of MTBC pathogens is their high degree of genetic identity yet distinct host tropism. Notably, while Mycobacterium bovis is highly virulent and pathogenic for cattle, the human pathogen M. tuberculosis is attenuated in cattle. Previous research also suggests that host preference amongst MTBC members has a basis in host innate immune responses. To explore MTBC host tropism, we present in-depth profiling of the MTBC reference strains M. bovis AF2122/97 and M. tuberculosis H37Rv at both the global transcriptional and the translational level via RNA-sequencing and SWATH MS. Furthermore, a bovine alveolar macrophage infection time course model was used to investigate the shared and divergent host transcriptomic response to infection with M. tuberculosis H37Rv or M. bovis AF2122/97. Significant differential expression of virulence-associated pathways between the two bacilli was revealed, including the ESX-1 secretion system. A divergent transcriptional response was observed between M. tuberculosis H37Rv and M. bovis AF2122/97 infection of bovine alveolar macrophages, in particular cytosolic DNA-sensing pathways at 48 h post-infection, and highlights a distinct engagement of M. bovis with the bovine innate immune system. The work presented here therefore provides a basis for the identification of host innate immune mechanisms subverted by virulent host-adapted mycobacteria to promote their survival during the early stages of infection.

Original publication




Journal article


Microb Genom

Publication Date





Mycobacterium bovis, macrophage, proteomics, transcriptomics, tuberculosis, Animals, Cattle, Humans, Immunity, Innate, Macrophages, Alveolar, Mycobacterium bovis, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Proteomics, Transcriptome, Tuberculosis, Bovine, Tuberculosis, Pulmonary