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J Clin Microbiol. 2010 Nov;48(11):3928-34. doi: 10.1128/JCM.01113-10. Epub 2010 Sep 1.

secA1 gene sequence polymorphisms for species identification of Nocardia species and recognition of intraspecies genetic diversity.

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  • 1Centre for Infectious Diseases and Microbiology, University of Sydney, Westmead Hospital, Westmead, New South Wales, Australia.


Sequence analysis of the Nocardia essential secretory protein SecA1 gene (secA1) for species identification of 120 American Type Culture Collection (ATCC) and clinical isolates of Nocardia (16 species) was studied in comparison with 5'-end 606-bp 16S rRNA gene sequencing. Species determination by both methods was concordant for all 10 ATCC strains. secA1 gene sequencing provided the same species identification as 16S rRNA gene analysis for 94/110 (85.5%) clinical isolates. However, 40 (42.6%) isolates had sequences with <99.0% similarity to archived secA1 sequences for the species, including 29 Nocardia cyriacigeorgica (96.6 to 98.9% similarity) and 4 Nocardia veterana (91.5 to 98.9% similarity) strains. Discrepant species identification was obtained for 16 (14.5%) clinical isolates, including 13/23 Nocardia nova strains (identified as various Nocardia species by secA1 sequencing) and 1 isolate each of Nocardia abscessus (identified as Nocardia asiatica), Nocardia elegans (Nocardia africana), and Nocardia transvalensis (Nocardia blacklockiae); both secA1 gene sequence analysis and deduced amino acid sequence analysis determined the species to be different from those assigned by 16S rRNA gene sequencing. The secA1 locus showed high sequence diversity (66 sequence or genetic types versus 40 16S rRNA gene sequence types), which was highest for N. nova (14 secA1 sequence types), followed by Nocardia farcinica and N. veterana (n = 7 each); there was only a single sequence type among eight Nocardia paucivorans strains. The secA1 locus has potential for species identification as an adjunct to 16S rRNA gene sequencing but requires additional deduced amino acid sequence analysis. It may be a suitable marker for phylogenetic/subtyping studies.

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