Mycobacterium tuberculosis associated with severe tuberculosis evades cytosolic surveillance systems and modulates IL-1β production

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Jeremy Sousa
  • Baltazar Cá
  • Ana Raquel Maceiras
  • Luisa Simões-Costa
  • Kaori L Fonseca
  • Ana Isabel Fernandes
  • Angélica Ramos
  • Teresa Carvalho
  • Leandro Barros
  • Carlos Magalhães
  • Álvaro Chiner-Oms
  • Henrique Machado
  • Maria Isabel Veiga
  • Albel Singh
  • Rui Pereira
  • António Amorim
  • Jorge Vieira
  • Cristina P Vieira
  • Fernando Rodrigues
  • Pedro N S Rodrigues
  • Sebastien Gagneux
  • António Gil Castro
  • João Tiago Guimarães
  • Helder Novais Bastos
  • Nuno S Osório
  • Iñaki Comas
  • Margarida Saraiva

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • University of Porto
  • University of Minho
  • Biomedicine Institute of Valencia (CSIC)
  • University of Birmingham
  • Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH)


Genetic diversity of Mycobacterium tuberculosis affects immune responses and clinical outcomes of tuberculosis (TB). However, how bacterial diversity orchestrates immune responses to direct distinct TB severities is unknown. Here we study 681 patients with pulmonary TB and show that M. tuberculosis isolates from cases with mild disease consistently induce robust cytokine responses in macrophages across multiple donors. By contrast, bacteria from patients with severe TB do not do so. Secretion of IL-1β is a good surrogate of the differences observed, and thus to classify strains as probable drivers of different TB severities. Furthermore, we demonstrate that M. tuberculosis isolates that induce low levels of IL-1β production can evade macrophage cytosolic surveillance systems, including cGAS and the inflammasome. Isolates exhibiting this evasion strategy carry candidate mutations, generating sigA recognition boxes or affecting components of the ESX-1 secretion system. Therefore, we provide evidence that M. tuberculosis strains manipulate host-pathogen interactions to drive variable TB severities.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1949
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 23 Apr 2020


  • Animals, Bacterial Proteins/genetics, Cells, Cultured, Cytokines/metabolism, Cytosol/immunology, Female, Genome, Bacterial/genetics, Humans, Immune Evasion, Immunomodulation, Inflammasomes/immunology, Interleukin-1beta/metabolism, Macrophages/immunology, Male, Mice, Mutation, Mycobacterium tuberculosis/classification, Phylogeny, Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide, Signal Transduction/immunology, Tuberculosis, Pulmonary/immunology, Virulence/genetics

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