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Mutational spectra are associated with bacterial niche.

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Weimann, Aaron 
Tonkin-Hill, Gerry 
Pandurangan, Arun Prasad 
Matuszewska, Marta 


As observed in cancers, individual mutagens and defects in DNA repair create distinctive mutational signatures that combine to form context-specific spectra within cells. We reasoned that similar processes must occur in bacterial lineages, potentially allowing decomposition analysis to detect both disruption of DNA repair processes and exposure to niche-specific mutagens. Here we reconstruct mutational spectra for 84 clades from 31 diverse bacterial species and find distinct mutational patterns. We extract signatures driven by specific DNA repair defects using hypermutator lineages, and further deconvolute the spectra into multiple signatures operating within different clades. We show that these signatures are explained by both bacterial phylogeny and replication niche. By comparing mutational spectra of clades from different environmental and biological locations, we identify niche-associated mutational signatures, and then employ these signatures to infer the predominant replication niches for several clades where this was previously obscure. Our results show that mutational spectra may be associated with sites of bacterial replication when mutagen exposures differ, and can be used in these cases to infer transmission routes for established and emergent human bacterial pathogens.



Humans, Mutation, Neoplasms, DNA Repair, Mutagens, DNA Mutational Analysis

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Nat Commun

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Nature Portfolio
Wellcome Trust (107032/Z/15/Z)
Wellcome Trust (200814/Z/16/Z)
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