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PLoS One. 2012;7(2):e31538. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0031538. Epub 2012 Feb 21.

MLVA subtyping of genovar E Chlamydia trachomatis individualizes the Swedish variant and anorectal isolates from men who have sex with men.

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  • 1Université de Bordeaux, USC Mycoplasmal and Chlamydial Infections in Humans, French National Reference Centre for Chlamydial Infections, Bordeaux, France.


This study describes a new multilocus variable number tandem-repeat (VNTR) analysis (MLVA) typing system for the discrimination of Chlamydia trachomatis genovar D to K isolates or specimens. We focused our MLVA scheme on genovar E which predominates in most populations worldwide. This system does not require culture and therefore can be performed directly on DNA extracted from positive clinical specimens. Our method was based on GeneScan analysis of five VNTR loci labelled with fluorescent dyes by multiplex PCR and capillary electrophoresis. This MLVA, called MLVA-5, was applied to a collection of 220 genovar E and 94 non-E genovar C. trachomatis isolates and specimens obtained from 251 patients and resulted in 38 MLVA-5 types. The genetic stability of the MLVA-5 scheme was assessed for results obtained both in vitro by serial passage culturing and in vivo using concomitant and sequential isolates and specimens. All anorectal genovar E isolates from men who have sex with men exhibited the same MLVA-5 type, suggesting clonal spread. In the same way, we confirmed the clonal origin of the Swedish new variant of C. trachomatis. The MLVA-5 assay was compared to three other molecular typing methods, ompA gene sequencing, multilocus sequence typing (MLST) and a previous MLVA method called MLVA-3, on 43 genovar E isolates. The discriminatory index was 0.913 for MLVA-5, 0.860 for MLST and 0.622 for MLVA-3. Among all of these genotyping methods, MLVA-5 displayed the highest discriminatory power and does not require a time-consuming sequencing step. The results indicate that MLVA-5 enables high-resolution molecular epidemiological characterisation of C. trachomatis genovars D to K infections directly from specimens.

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