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J Clin Microbiol. 1997 Mar;35(3):566-9.

PCR identification of Mycobacterium bovis BCG.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina, USA.


The attenuated bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine strain is derived from a virulent strain of Mycobacterium bovis. BCG is difficult to differentiate from other strains of M. bovis and other members of the M. tuberculosis complex by conventional methods. Recently, a genomic region designated RD1 was found to be present in all virulent M. bovis and M. tuberculosis strains tested but deleted from all BCG strains tested. With this information, a multiplex PCR method was developed to detect the RD1 deletion. A large collection of BCG and other M. tuberculosis complex strains from diverse host and geographic origins was tested. RD1 was deleted in 23 of 23 BCG strains. RD1 was present in 129 of 129 other M. tuberculosis complex strains. This multiplex PCR method can be used as a tool for the rapid and specific identification of BCG.

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