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Foodborne Pathog Dis. 2010 Mar;7(3):293-8. doi: 10.1089/fpd.2009.0394.

Re-evaluation, optimization, and multilaboratory validation of the PulseNet-standardized pulsed-field gel electrophoresis protocol for Listeria monocytogenes.

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  • 1Enteric Diseases Laboratory Branch, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia 30329, USA.


The PulseNet Methods Development and Validation Laboratory began a re-evaluation of the standardized pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) protocols with the goal of optimizing their overall performance and robustness. Herein, we describe a stepwise evaluation of the PulseNet-standardized PFGE protocol for Listeria monocytogenes that led to the modification of several steps which significantly improved the overall appearance and reproducibility of the resulting PFGE data. These improvements included the following: (1) reducing the cell suspension concentration, (2) increasing lysozyme incubation temperature from 37 degrees C to 56 degrees C, and (3) decreasing the number of units of restriction enzymes AscI and ApaI. These changes were incorporated into a proposed protocol that was evaluated by 16 PulseNet participating laboratories, including 2 international participants. Results from the validation study indicated that the updated L. monocytogenes protocol is more robust than the original PulseNet-standardized protocol established in 1998 and this resulted in the official adoption of the new protocol into the PulseNet system in the spring of 2008. The modifications not only represent an improvement to the protocol but also describe procedural improvements that could be potentially applied to the PFGE analysis of other Gram-positive organisms.

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