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J Clin Microbiol. Nov 1994; 32(11): 2801–2812.
PMCID: PMC264162

The superoxide dismutase gene, a target for detection and identification of mycobacteria by PCR.


The superoxide dismutase gene has been identified as a target in screening for the presence of mycobacteria on the genus level and differentiating relevant mycobacterial species from one another by PCR. Consensus primers deduced from known superoxide dismutase gene sequences allowed the amplification of DNAs from a variety of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. Selected amplicons from Actinomyces viscosus, Corynebacterium diphtheriae, Corynebacterium pseudodiphtheriticum, Mycobacterium avium, M. fortuitum, M. gordonae, M. intracellulare, M. kansasii, M. scrofulaceum, M. simiae, M. tuberculosis, M. xenopi, and Nocardia asteroides were subsequently cloned and sequenced. The alignment of those sequences facilitated the selection of primers targeting conserved regions present in myobacterial species but absent in nonmycobacterial species and thus allowed the genus-specific amplification of all 28 different mycobacterial species tested. A pool of genus-specific allowed the genus-specific amplification of all 28 different mycobacterial species tested. A pool of genus-specific probes recognized 23 of the 28 mycobacterial species and did not cross-react with any of the 96 nonmycobacterial species tested. In addition, probes recognizing species-specific variable regions within the superoxide dismutase genes of M. avium, M. fortuitum, M. gordonae, M. intracellulare, M. kansasii, M. scrofulaceum, M. simiae, the M. tuberculosis complex, and M. xenopi were identified. All probes recognized only the species from which they were derived and did not cross-react with any other mycobacterial species or with any of the nonmycobacterial species tested. We conclude that the superoxide dismutase gene is a suitable target for amplifying mycobacteria by PCR on the genus level, confirming correct amplification by genus-specific probes, and differentiating relevant species from one another by a set of species-specific probes.

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