Background: Staphylococcus aureus has a high prevalence in chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) patients and is suggested to play a more etiopathogenic role in CRS patients with nasal polyps (CRSwNP), a severe form of the CRS spectrum with poorer surgical outcomes. We performed a microbial genome-wide association study (mGWAS) to investigate whether S. aureus isolates from CRS patients have particular genetic markers associated with CRS with nasal polyps (CRSwNP) or CRS without nasal polyps (CRSsNP).
Methods: Whole genome sequencing was performed on S. aureus isolates collected from 28 CRSsNP and 30 CRSwNP patients. A mGWAS approach was employed using large-scale comparative genomics to identify genetic variation within our dataset.
Results: Considerable genetic variation was observed, with > 90,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) sites identified. There was little correlation with CRS subtype based on SNPs and Insertion/Delection (Indels). One indel was found to significantly correlate with CRSwNP and occurred in the promoter region of a bacitracin transport system ATP-binding protein. Additionally, two variants of the highly variable superantigen-like (SSL) proteins were found to significantly correlate with each CRS phenotype. No significant association with other virulence or antibiotic resistance genes were observed, consistent with previous studies.
Conclusion: To our knowledge this study is the first to use mGWAS to investigate the contribution of microbial genetic variation to CRS presentations. Utilising the most comprehensive genome-wide analysis methods available, our results suggest that CRS phenotype may be influenced by genetic factors other than specific virulence mechanisms within the S. aureus genome.