• We are sorry, but NCBI web applications do not support your browser and may not function properly. More information
Logo of jclinpathJournal of Clinical PathologyVisit this articleSubmit a manuscriptReceive email alertsContact usBMJ
J Clin Pathol. Apr 1994; 47(4): 353–356.
PMCID: PMC501941

Polymerase chain reaction for screening clinical isolates of corynebacteria for the production of diphtheria toxin.


AIMS--To assess the performance of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) when used to screen rapidly large numbers of corynebacteria for toxin production; and to determine the incidence of false positive PCR results with non-toxigenic Corynebacterium diphtheriae isolates. METHODS--Eighty seven recent British isolates of corynebacteria were assayed by PCR. All isolates were assayed from both blood and tellurite agar within a five day period. Thirty three non-toxigenic isolates of C diphtheriae from six countries were also tested by PCR and by the Elek immunodiffusion assay. RESULTS--There was complete concordance between the results of PCR and traditional methods on the recent British isolates, with one exception: an Elek positive "C ulcerans" isolate, which was PCR positive from tellurite but not from blood agar. One of the thirty three (3%) non-toxigenic isolates of C diphtheriae was PCR positive. CONCLUSIONS--These results suggest that PCR compares favourably with traditional methods for the detection of toxigenic corynebacteria and that it represents a powerful new tool in the diagnosis of an old disease.

Full text

Full text is available as a scanned copy of the original print version. Get a printable copy (PDF file) of the complete article (778K), or click on a page image below to browse page by page. Links to PubMed are also available for Selected References.

Images in this article

Click on the image to see a larger version.

Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Efstratiou A, George RC, Begg NT. Non-toxigenic Corynebacterium diphtheriae var gravis in England. Lancet. 1993 Jun 19;341(8860):1592–1593. [PubMed]
  • Farizo KM, Strebel PM, Chen RT, Kimbler A, Cleary TJ, Cochi SL. Fatal respiratory disease due to Corynebacterium diphtheriae: case report and review of guidelines for management, investigation, and control. Clin Infect Dis. 1993 Jan;16(1):59–68. [PubMed]
  • Lumio J, Jahkola M, Vuento R, Haikala O, Eskola J. Diphtheria after visit to Russia. Lancet. 1993 Jul 3;342(8862):53–54. [PubMed]
  • Xamoterol in severe heart failure. The Xamoterol in Severe Heart Failure Study Group. Lancet. 1990 Jul 7;336(8706):1–6. [PubMed]
  • Brooks R, Joynson DH. ACP Broadsheet no 125: July 1990. Bacteriological diagnosis of diphtheria. J Clin Pathol. 1990 Jul;43(7):576–580. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Snell JJ, Demello JV, Gardner PS, Kwantes W, Brooks R. Detection of toxin production by Corynebacterium diphtheriae: results of a trial organised as part of the United Kingdom National External Microbiological Quality Assessment Scheme. J Clin Pathol. 1984 Jul;37(7):796–799. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Pallen MJ. Rapid screening for toxigenic Corynebacterium diphtheriae by the polymerase chain reaction. J Clin Pathol. 1991 Dec;44(12):1025–1026. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Greenfield L, Bjorn MJ, Horn G, Fong D, Buck GA, Collier RJ, Kaplan DA. Nucleotide sequence of the structural gene for diphtheria toxin carried by corynebacteriophage beta. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1983 Nov;80(22):6853–6857. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Ratti G, Rappuoli R, Giannini G. The complete nucleotide sequence of the gene coding for diphtheria toxin in the corynephage omega (tox+) genome. Nucleic Acids Res. 1983 Oct 11;11(19):6589–6595. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Kaczorek M, Delpeyroux F, Chenciner N, Streeck RE, Murphy JR, Boquet P, Tiollais P. Nucleotide sequence and expression of the diphtheria tox228 gene in Escherichia coli. Science. 1983 Aug 26;221(4613):855–858. [PubMed]
  • Pallen MJ, Puckey LH, Wren BW. A rapid, simple method for detecting PCR failure. PCR Methods Appl. 1992 Aug;2(1):91–92. [PubMed]
  • Groman N, Cianciotto N, Bjorn M, Rabin M. Detection and expression of DNA homologous to the tox gene in nontoxinogenic isolates of Corynebacterium diphtheriae. Infect Immun. 1983 Oct;42(1):48–56. [PMC free article] [PubMed]

Articles from Journal of Clinical Pathology are provided here courtesy of BMJ Group


Related citations in PubMed

See reviews...See all...

Cited by other articles in PMC

See all...


Recent Activity

Your browsing activity is empty.

Activity recording is turned off.

Turn recording back on

See more...