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Characterizing the function of the Rv3218 gene in Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

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Tuberculosis (TB), caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, is a primordial affliction that continues to torment humankind since its known history and prehistory. TB is among the major causes of ill-health and death in the world with an estimated 1.8 million cases of death recorded yearly. The situation is worsened by the emergence of the strains of TB that are regarded as resistant. Recently, Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG), has been the only available vaccine for TB. An intense understanding of Mtb’s biology, should reveal new perceptions that can lead to the improved treatment, diagnostics, vaccines and highly needed control measures. Throughout infection, Mtb produces some proteins into the host environment to play critical role in pathogen host interactions. Close to half of the Mtb genome consists of genes with unknown functions. Among those genes is Rv3218 gene which was identified in the study by Chiliza et al., 2019. The Rv3218 gene is hypothesised to have a Diacylglycerol kinase activity. This study aimed at characterising the function of Rv3218 gene in Mtb with the purpose of coming up with ideas of how that can be used in the development of more effective and convenient diagnostic tools, therapeutics, or the total elimination of TB. There is a vast amount of molecular techniques that are currently used to characterise unknown genes. Here we employed a CRISPRi dCas9 system for the silencing of the Rv3218 gene in Mtb. We also used a number of Bioinformatics tools for in silico analysis of the gene and construction of all relevant primers necessary for this molecular cloning. The Rv3218 knockdown repressed by Anhydrotetracycline (ATc) was constructed for assaying the effect of this gene silencing compared to the MtbH37Rv wild type. We then conducted growth curves and MICs (Minimum Inhibitory Concentrations) to check if this gene has an impact on antimicrobial susceptibility and growth of Mtb. We also tested its activity as a diacylglycerol kinase via osmolarity assay as it is said that dgk mutants do not grow well on nutrient media of low osmolarity. On bioinformatics analysis, we found that the gene has cell wall and transcription regulatory functions and possesses a similar structure as diacylglycerol kinase. However, the in vitro analysis was contradictory to these findings. We found that the Rv3218 gene has no impact on the growth of Mtb and it’s susceptibly to the antimicrobial drugs that were used in this study. On the osmolarity assay, there was no observable difference between the growth of the wild type and the knockdown strain in all the concentrations of osmolarity. Judging from these findings, we then concluded that this gene does not function as a diacylglycerol kinase. We then suggested that, more advanced experimental studies still need to be conducted in order to confirm this hypothesis as we were unable to do them due to the short time frame for this study.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.