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Mol Cell Probes. 1988 Jun;2(2):111-24.

DNA probes for mycobacteria. I. Isolation of DNA probes for the identification of Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex and for mycobacteria other than tuberculosis (MOTT).

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  • 1Enzo Biochem, Inc., New York, New York 10013.


Traditional methods used in identifying mycobacteria such as acid-fast bacillus stains and culture are often time-consuming, insensitive and non-specific. The isolation of DNA probes, coupled to a non-radioactive, e.g. biotin-based detection system, have the potential to foster the development of clinical assays for Mycobacterium tuberculosis and mycobacteria other than tuberculosis (MOTT) that are rapid, sensitive and specific. To this end, we have isolated two different probes: one which is specific for the Mtb complex and one which recognizes all other potentially pathogenic mycobacteria. The use of these probes in combination should allow the detection and differentiation of M. tuberculosis from MOTT. To isolate the first probe, we prepared a library of M. tuberculosis DNA fragments in a lambda EMBL phage vector. Recombinant phage were screened by plaque-lift hybridization procedures using nick-translated mycobacterial genomic DNA to identify sequences specific to the Mtb complex. Inserts from candidate recombinant phage were purified, nick-translated and hybridized against a wide variety of filter-bound mycobacterial and non-mycobacterial DNAs. Two clones were identified which hybridized to the closely related M. tuberculosis, M. bovis and M. microti but not to other species of mycobacteria. The second probe was isolated by preparing a library of M. malmoense DNA fragments in lambda EMBL and screening by plaque-lift hybridization. One clone was identified which, in addition to recognizing members of the Mtb complex, also hybridized to M. intracellulare, M. malmoense, M. scrofulaceum, M. simiae, M. xenopi, M. avium, M. szulgai, M. kansasii and M. haemophilum. None of the three clones hybridized to DNA from non-mycobacterial species.

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