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J Clin Microbiol. 2011 Jul;49(7):2485-9. doi: 10.1128/JCM.00452-11. Epub 2011 May 18.

Rapid detection and molecular differentiation of toxigenic Corynebacterium diphtheriae and Corynebacterium ulcerans strains by LightCycler PCR.

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National Consiliary Laboratory for Diphtheria, Bavarian Health and Food Safety Authority, Veterinärstraße 2, 85764 Oberschleißheim, Germany.


The systemic symptoms of diphtheria are caused by the tox-encoded diphtheria toxin (DT) which is produced by toxigenic Corynebacterium spp. Besides the classical agent C. diphtheriae, the zoonotic pathogen C. ulcerans has increasingly been reported as an emerging pathogen for diphtheria. The reliable detection of toxigenic Corynebacterium spp. is of substantial importance for both diphtheria surveillance in the public health sector and the clinical workup of a patient with diphtherialike symptoms. Since the respective tox genes of C. diphtheriae and C. ulcerans differ from each other in both DNA and amino acid sequence, both tox genes should be covered by novel real-time PCR methods. We describe the development and validation of a LightCycler PCR assay which reliably recognizes tox genes from both C. diphtheriae and C. ulcerans and differentiates the respective target genes by fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) hybridization probe melting curve analysis.

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