Genomic and functional analyses of Mycobacterium tuberculosis strains implicate ald in D-cycloserine resistance

Christopher A. Desjardins, Keira A. Cohen, Vanisha Munsamy, Thomas Abeel, Kashmeel Maharaj, Bruce J. Walker, Terrance P. Shea, Deepak V. Almeida, Abigail L. Manson, Alex Salazar, Nesri Padayatchi, Max R. O'Donnell, Koleka P. Mlisana, Jennifer Wortman, Bruce W. Birren, Jacques Grosset, Ashlee M. Earl, Alexander S. Pym

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


A more complete understanding of the genetic basis of drug resistance in Mycobacterium tuberculosis is critical for prompt diagnosis and optimal treatment, particularly for toxic second-line drugs such as D-cycloserine. Here we used the whole-genome sequences from 498 strains of M. tuberculosis to identify new resistance-conferring genotypes. By combining association and correlated evolution tests with strategies for amplifying signal from rare variants, we found that loss-of-function mutations in ald (Rv2780), encoding L-alanine dehydrogenase, were associated with unexplained drug resistance. Convergent evolution of this loss of function was observed exclusively among multidrug-resistant strains. Drug susceptibility testing established that ald loss of function conferred resistance to D-cycloserine, and susceptibility to the drug was partially restored by complementation of ald. Clinical strains with mutations in ald and alr exhibited increased resistance to D-cycloserine when cultured in vitro. Incorporation of D-cycloserine resistance in novel molecular diagnostics could allow for targeted use of this toxic drug among patients with susceptible infections.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)544-551
Number of pages8
JournalNature genetics
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics


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