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J Microbiol Methods. 2005 Dec;63(3):219-28. Epub 2005 Jun 2.

Identification of plasmids by PCR-based replicon typing.

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Department of Infectious, Parasitic and Immune-mediated Diseases, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Viale Regina Elena 299, 00161 Rome, Italy.


The epidemiological importance of tracing plasmids conferring drug resistance prompted us to develop a PCR method based on replicons (inc/rep PCR) of the major plasmid incompatibility groups among Enterobacteriaceae. Eighteen pairs of primers were designed to perform 5 multiplex- and 3 simplex-PCRs, recognizing FIA, FIB, FIC, HI1, HI2, I1-Igamma, L/M, N, P, W, T, A/C, K, B/O, X, Y, F, and FIIA. The specificity of the method was tested on a collection of 61 reference plasmids and on 20 Salmonella enterica strains of different serotypes isolated in Italy. Results indicated that the inc/rep PCR method demonstrates high specificity and sensitivity in detecting replicons on reference plasmids and also revealed the presence of recurrent and common plasmids in epidemiologically unrelated Salmonella isolates of different serotypes. These results suggest that the method is potentially applicable to a large number of strains to trace the diffusion of specific multi-drug resistance plasmids in different environments.

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