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J Clin Microbiol. 2012 Mar;50(3):742-53. doi: 10.1128/JCM.05183-11. Epub 2011 Dec 14.

Real-time PCR and high-resolution melt analysis for rapid detection of Mycobacterium leprae drug resistance mutations and strain types.

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Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA.


Drug resistance surveillance and strain typing of Mycobacterium leprae are necessary to investigate ongoing transmission of leprosy in regions of endemicity. To enable wider implementation of these molecular analyses, novel real-time PCR-high-resolution melt (RT-PCR-HRM) assays without allele-specific primers or probes and post-PCR sample handling were developed. For the detection of mutations within drug resistance-determining regions (DRDRs) of folP1, rpoB, and gyrA, targets for dapsone, rifampin, and fluoroquinolones, real-time PCR-HRM assays were developed. Wild-type and drug-resistant mouse footpad-derived strains that included three folP1, two rpoB, and one gyrA mutation types in a reference panel were tested. RT-PCR-HRM correctly distinguished the wild type from the mutant strains. In addition, RT-PCR-HRM analyses aided in recognizing samples with mixed or minor alleles and also a mislabeled sample. When tested in 121 sequence-characterized clinical strains, HRM identified all the folP1 mutants representing two mutation types, including one not within the reference panel. The false positives (<5%) could be attributed to low DNA concentration or PCR inhibition. A second set of RT-PCR-HRM assays for identification of three previously reported single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that have been used for strain typing were developed and validated in 22 reference and 25 clinical strains. Real-time PCR-HRM is a sensitive, simple, rapid, and high-throughput tool for routine screening known DRDR mutants in new and relapsed cases, SNP typing, and detection of minor mutant alleles in the wild-type background at lower costs than current methods and with the potential for quality control in leprosy investigations.

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