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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2008 Dec;74(23):7365-75. doi: 10.1128/AEM.01138-08. Epub 2008 Oct 3.

Development and implementation of a multiplex single-nucleotide polymorphism genotyping assay for detection of virulence-attenuating mutations in the Listeria monocytogenes virulence-associated gene inlA.

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  • 1Department of Animal Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1171, USA.


The virulence factor internalin A (InlA) facilitates the uptake of Listeria monocytogenes by epithelial cells that express the human isoform of E-cadherin. Previous studies identified naturally occurring premature stop codon (PMSC) mutations in inlA and demonstrated that these mutations are responsible for virulence attenuation. We assembled >1,700 L. monocytogenes isolates from diverse sources representing 90 EcoRI ribotypes. A subset of this isolate collection was selected based on ribotype frequency and characterized by a Caco-2 cell invasion assay. The sequencing of inlA genes from isolates with attenuated invasion capacities revealed three novel inlA PMSCs which had not been identified previously among U.S. isolates. Since ribotypes include isolates with and without inlA PMSCs, we developed a multiplex single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotyping assay to detect isolates with virulence-attenuating PMSC mutations in inlA. The SNP genotyping assay detects all inlA PMSC mutations that have been reported worldwide and verified in this study to date by the extension of unlabeled primers with fluorescently labeled dideoxynucleoside triphosphates. We implemented the SNP genotyping assay to characterize human clinical and food isolates representing common ribotypes associated with novel inlA PMSC mutations. PMSCs in inlA were significantly (ribotypes DUP-1039C and DUP-1045B; P < 0.001) or marginally (ribotype DUP-1062D; P = 0.11) more common among food isolates than human clinical isolates. SNP genotyping revealed a fourth novel PMSC mutation among U.S. L. monocytogenes isolates, which was observed previously among isolates from France and Portugal. This SNP genotyping assay may be implemented by regulatory agencies and the food industry to differentiate L. monocytogenes isolates carrying virulence-attenuating PMSC mutations in inlA from strains representing the most significant health risk.

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