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J Clin Microbiol. 2013 Nov;51(11):3711-6. doi: 10.1128/JCM.01526-13. Epub 2013 Aug 28.

Novel approach for differentiating Shigella species and Escherichia coli by matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time of flight mass spectrometry.

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ARUP Laboratories, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.


Shigella species are so closely related to Escherichia coli that routine matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization-time of flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) cannot reliably differentiate them. Biochemical and serological methods are typically used to distinguish these species; however, "inactive" isolates of E. coli are biochemically very similar to Shigella species and thus pose a greater diagnostic challenge. We used ClinProTools (Bruker Daltonics) software to discover MALDI-TOF MS biomarker peaks and to generate classification models based on the genetic algorithm to differentiate between Shigella species and E. coli. Sixty-six Shigella spp. and 72 E. coli isolates were used to generate and test classification models, and the optimal models contained 15 biomarker peaks for genus-level classification and 12 peaks for species-level classification. We were able to identify 90% of E. coli and Shigella clinical isolates correctly to the species level. Only 3% of tested isolates were misidentified. This novel MALDI-TOF MS approach allows laboratories to streamline the identification of E. coli and Shigella species.

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