Author(s): Picard FJ, Ke D, Boudreau DK, Boissinot M, Huletsky A,
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Abstract A 761-bp portion of the tuf gene (encoding the elongation factor Tu) from 28 clinically relevant streptococcal species was obtained by sequencing amplicons generated using broad-range PCR primers. These tuf sequences were used to select Streptococcus-specific PCR primers and to perform phylogenetic analysis. The specificity of the PCR assay was verified using 102 different bacterial species, including the 28 streptococcal species. Genomic DNA purified from all streptococcal species was efficiently detected, whereas there was no amplification with DNA from 72 of the 74 nonstreptococcal bacterial species tested. There was cross-amplification with DNAs from Enterococcus durans and Lactococcus lactis. However, the 15 to 31\% nucleotide sequence divergence in the 761-bp tuf portion of these two species compared to any streptococcal tuf sequence provides ample sequence divergence to allow the development of internal probes specific to streptococci. The Streptococcus-specific assay was highly sensitive for all 28 streptococcal species tested (i.e., detection limit of 1 to 10 genome copies per PCR). The tuf sequence data was also used to perform extensive phylogenetic analysis, which was generally in agreement with phylogeny determined on the basis of 16S rRNA gene data. However, the tuf gene provided a better discrimination at the streptococcal species level that should be particularly useful for the identification of very closely related species. In conclusion, tuf appears more suitable than the 16S ribosomal RNA gene for the development of diagnostic assays for the detection and identification of streptococcal species because of its higher level of species-specific genetic divergence.
This article was published in J Clin Microbiol
and referenced in Journal of Bacteriology & Parasitology