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Diagn Microbiol Infect Dis. 2004 Jul;49(3):163-71.

Identification of Bacillus anthracis by multiprobe microarray hybridization.

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Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration, Kensington, MD 20895, USA.


We have developed a rapid assay based on microarray analysis of amplified genetic markers for reliable identification of Bacillus anthracis and its discrimination from other closely related bacterial species of the Bacillus cereus group. By combining polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification of six B. anthracis-specific genes (plasmid-associated genes encoding virulence factors (cyaA, pagA, lef, and capA, capB, capC) and one chromosomal marker BA-5449) with analysis of amplicons by microarray hybridization, we were able to unambiguously identify and discriminate B. anthracis among other closely related species. Bacillus identification relied on hybridization with multiple individual microarray oligonucleotide probes (oligoprobes) specific to each target B. anthracis gene. Evaluation of the assay was conducted using several B. anthracis strains (with or without pXO1 and pXO2 plasmids) as well as over 50 other species phylogenetically related to B. anthracis, including B. cereus, B. thuringiensis, B. mycoides, and B. subtilis. The developed microarray analysis of amplified genetic markers protocol provides an efficient method for (i) unambiguous identification and discrimination of B. anthracis from other Bacillus species and (ii) distinguishing between plasmid-containing and plasmid-free Bacillus anthracis strains.

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