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Diagn Microbiol Infect Dis. 2011 May;70(1):45-53. doi: 10.1016/j.diagmicrobio.2011.02.005.

A specific polymerase chain reaction test for the identification of Streptococcus pneumoniae.

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CNRS-LMGM-UMR5100, Université Paul Sabatier-Toulouse III, bat. IBCG, 118 route de Narbonne, 31062 Toulouse cedex 9, France.


Using an approach based on the comparison of arbitrary primer polymerase chain reaction (PCR) genomic profiles from oral streptococci and Streptococcus pneumoniae strains, we identified a 434-bp genomic fragment apparently specific for S. pneumoniae. From the nucleotidic sequence of this common fragment, a pair of primers was designed and tested on a set of strains comprising the major Streptococcus species. One species, S. anginosus, gave an amplification product of the same length as S. pneumoniae. Sequence comparison of the S. anginosus and S. pneumoniae amplicons revealed several variations which were used to define a new set of primers giving a 181-bp S. pneumoniae-specific fragment. The amplified fragment contains the 5' terminal part of a gene encoding a putative sugar-specific permease and an intergenic sequence. The PCR test was evaluated on 257 strains of invasive S. pneumoniae corresponding to clinical isolates and on 153 non-pneumoniae oral streptococci strains; in addition, 3 S. pseudopneumoniae strains were tested. With these primers, an amplification product was only obtained with the S. pneumoniae strains. Moreover, the test was successfully evaluated on 10 atypical S. pneumoniae strains related to pneumococcal diseases. In this study, we therefore established the capacity of a simple PCR test to discriminate S. pneumoniae from other Streptococci (including S. pseudopneumoniae), thus allowing rapid and accurate diagnosis.

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