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J Med Microbiol. 2003 Apr;52(Pt 4):309-13.

Specific PCR detection of Peptostreptococcus magnus.

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Infection and Immunity Research Group, University of Glasgow Dental School, 378 Sauchiehall Street, UK.


Peptostreptococcus magnus is the most pathogenic and one of the most common Gram-positive anaerobic cocci found in human clinical specimens. The organism has been isolated in pure culture from a range of serious infections, including meningitis and endocarditis. However, isolation of Peptostreptococcus magnus from the oral cavity has rarely been attempted. Identification of Peptostreptococcus magnus in clinical specimens is reliant upon microbiological culture and biochemical methods, which often give ambiguous results. The aim of this study was to develop a PCR assay for the specific detection of Peptostreptococcus magnus in oral clinical specimens. PCR primers specific for Peptostreptococcus magnus DNA were derived by comparison of 16S rRNA gene sequences and selection of primers that demonstrated specificity at their 3' ends for Peptostreptococcus magnus. PCR positivity for Peptostreptococcus magnus DNA was indicated by the amplification of a 553 bp product. The PCR assay was then used to attempt detection of Peptostreptococcus magnus DNA in subgingival plaque samples from adult periodontitis patients and pus aspirates from subjects with acute dento-alveolar abscesses. The PCR assay was demonstrated to be highly specific for Peptostreptococcus magnus DNA, since no PCR products were obtained when genomic DNA from a wide range of other oral bacteria, including closely related Peptostreptococcus species, was used in the PCR assay. Confirmation of specific amplification of Peptostreptococcus magnus DNA was obtained by digestion of PCR products with the restriction endonuclease RsaI, which gives a unique restriction profile for Peptostreptococcus magnus. Of the 33 subgingival plaque samples analysed, 2 (6 %) were positive for Peptostreptococcus magnus DNA. None of the 60 pus aspirates analysed was positive for Peptostreptococcus magnus DNA. It is concluded that Peptostreptococcus magnus is not a major pathogen in adult periodontitis or dento-alveolar abscesses. The PCR assay provides a more rapid, specific and sensitive alternative to conventional methods for identification of Peptostreptococcus magnus in clinical specimens.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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