Professor Liu Weida’s Team at the Institute of Dermatology Made New Progresses in the Dermatophytes Genomics


Professor Liu Weida’s team from the Department of Mycology of the Institute of Dermatology revealed the clinically pathogenic difference between Trichophyton violaceum (T. violaceum) and trichophyton rubrum (T. rubrum) through analyses based on the genomic character evaluation. The paper from the research findings, with the title of Phylogeny of Dermatophytes with Genomic Character Evaluation of Clinically Distinct Trichophyton Rubrum and Trichophyton Violaceum, was published in the Studies in Mycology online in February 2018 (impact factor 14.00).

T. rubrum and T. violaceum are two major fungi of human dermatophyte infections, with the former being found on glabrous skin and nail and the latter being confined to the scalp and hair. The two are highly similar phylogenetically but phenotypically different. To illuminate the pathogenic difference mechanism of T. rubrum and T. violaceum is an important key for the studies in mycology and has significant theoretical value and potential clinical application value. However, it is still unsolved by far.

In this research, Dr. Zhan Ping in Liu Weida’s team sequenced the whole genomes for T. rubrum and T. violaceum and compared the results with the sequencing data related to dermatophytes in database. Meanwhile, she predicted and conducted a phylogenetic analysis on pathogenic factors such as adhesins and secreted proteases. According to research results, there are great phylogenetic differences in geophilic species of dermatophytes while less differences in those anthropophilic and zoophilic species. T. rubrum and T. violaceum share a high similarity of gene sequence similarity at 99.38%, while T. violaceum contains more paralogs than T. rubrum. Thirty adhesion factor related genes were predicted among dermatophytes, 17 were common between T. rubrum and T. violaceum, while four were specific for the former and eight for the latter. Multilocus phylogeny and genome comparison of T. rubrum and T. violaceum underlined their close affinity. At last, the possibility that they represent a single species exhibiting different phenotypes due to different localizations on the human body is discussed. This is a brand new finding and of important theoretical implications for entering a new level in understanding and research of T. rubrum and T. violaceum.

Dr. Zhan Ping in Liu Weida’s team (the first author) is working at the Dermatology Hospital of Jiangxi Province. Professor G. S. de Hoog from the Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics, University of Amsterdam also involved in this research. This research is sponsored by CAMS’s Medical and Health Sciences  Innovation Initiative (2016-I2M-3-021) and National Natural Science Foundation of China (31600120) and supported by the Specified Funding for foundament work from MOST (2013FY113700).

Paper Link:

(Dermatology Hospital)