Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae variability: current trends and proposed terminology for genomic classification.
Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae (M. hyopneumoniae) is the aetiologic agent of enzootic pneumonia in swine, a prevalent chronic respiratory disease worldwide. Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae is a small, self-replicating microorganism that possesses several characteristics allowing for limited biosynthetic abilities, resulting in the fastidious, host-specific growth and unique pathogenic properties of this microorganism. Variation across several isolates of M. hyopneumoniae has been described at antigenic, proteomic, transcriptomic, pathogenic and genomic levels. The microorganism possesses a minimal number of genes that regulate the transcription process. Post-translational modifications (PTM) occur frequently in a wide range of functional proteins. The PTM by which M. hyopneumoniae regulates its surface topography could play key roles in cell adhesion, evasion and/or modulation of the host immune system. The clinical outcome of M. hyopneumoniae infections is determined by different factors, such as housing conditions, management practices, co-infections and also by virulence differences among M. hyopneumoniae isolates. Factors contributing to adherence and colonization as well as the capacity to modulate inflammatory and immune responses might be crucial. Different components of the cell membrane (i.e. proteins, glycoproteins and lipoproteins) may serve as adhesins and/or be toxic for the respiratory tract cells. Mechanisms leading to virulence are complex and more research is needed to identify markers for virulence. The utilization of typing methods and complete or partial-gene sequencing for M. hyopneumoniae characterization has increased in diagnostic laboratories as control and elimination strategies for this microorganism are attempted worldwide. A commonly employed molecular typing method for M. hyopneumoniae is Multiple-Locus Variable number tandem repeat Analysis (MLVA). The agreement of a shared terminology and classification for the various techniques, specifically MLVA, has not been described, which makes inferences across the literature unsuitable. Therefore, molecular trends for M. hyopneumoniae have been outlined and a common terminology and classification based on Variable Number Tandem Repeats (VNTR) types has been proposed.