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J Clin Microbiol. 2009 Feb;47(2):322-6. doi: 10.1128/JCM.01550-08. Epub 2008 Nov 26.

Development and evaluation of a real-time PCR assay for detection of Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemase genes.

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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA.


We developed a novel real-time PCR assay to detect Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemases (KPCs) and used this assay to screen clinical isolates of K. pneumoniae and Klebsiella oxytoca for the presence of bla(KPC) genes. The TaqMan real-time PCR assay amplified a 399-bp product from the bla(KPC) gene. The amplicon was designed so that the genes for isoenzymes KPC-1, -2, and -3 could be easily distinguished by subsequent restriction digestion of the amplicon with the enzymes BstNI and RsaI. The assay was validated with reference strains obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that contained each of the three described isoenzymes and 69 extended-spectrum beta-lactamase-producing clinical isolates (39 K. pneumoniae and 30 K. oxytoca isolates). Subsequently, the bla(KPC) PCR assay was used to confirm the presence of bla(KPC) genes in any meropenem-resistant Klebsiella spp. The PCR assay detected bla(KPC) in all of the reference strains, in 6 of 7 meropenem-resistant isolates, and in 0 of 62 meropenem-susceptible clinical isolates. The PCR assay was then used to confirm the presence of bla(KPC) in an additional 20 meropenem-resistant isolates from 16 patients. Restriction digestion of the PCR amplicons identified two bla(KPC) gene variants in our patient population: 9 isolates with C and 17 with T at nucleotide 944, consistent with bla(KPC-2) and bla(KPC-3), respectively. The real-time PCR assay is a rapid and accurate method to detect all KPC isoenzymes and was useful in documenting the presence and dissemination of KPC-producing strains in our patient population.

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