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J Clin Microbiol. 2007 Jan;45(1):102-8. Epub 2006 Nov 8.

Clonal complexes of Campylobacter jejuni identified by multilocus sequence typing are reliably predicted by restriction fragment length polymorphism analyses of the flaA gene.

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  • 1Department of Primary Industries, Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute, Camden, New South Wales, Australia.


Multilocus sequence typing (MLST) has provided important new insights into the population structure of Campylobacter jejuni and is rapidly becoming the gold standard for typing this species. However, the methodology is comparatively costly and slow to perform for the routine surveillance testing of large numbers of isolates required by public health laboratories. Restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis of the flaA gene (RFLP-flaA) and sequencing of the variable region in the fla locus (SVR-fla) were compared to MLST to determine if a low cost alternative could be found that reliably predicts clonal lineage (as determined by MLST). An isolate of C. jejuni from each of 153 patients from New South Wales, Australia, collected sequentially over a period of 30 months from 1999 to 2001 and comprising 40 sequence types (ST) from 15 clonal complexes (CC) was examined. Of 15 CC, 12 were represented by more than one isolate and a predominant RFLP-flaA type was found for 10 (83%). Of these, seven (70%) correctly predicted the predominant MLST CC with a probability of >0.8. Of 40 STs detected, 19 were reported for the first time, 9 of which were represented by more than one isolate. Eight of these were represented by a single RFLP-flaA type. Only two of eight major SVR-fla types were able to predict CC with a probability of >0.8, indicating that flaA-RFLP is a more reliable predictor of CC than SVR-fla and thus offers an alternative to MLST for use in routine surveillance.

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