A total of 316 toxigenic Clostridium difficile clinical isolates of known PCR ribotypes from patients in North America were screened for resistance to clindamycin, metronidazole, moxifloxacin, and rifampin. Clindamycin resistance was observed among 16 different ribotypes, with ribotypes 017, 053, and 078 showing the highest proportions of resistance. All isolates were susceptible to metronidazole. Moxifloxacin resistance was present in >90% of PCR-ribotype 027 and 053 isolates but was less common among other ribotypes. Only 7.9% of the C. difficile isolates were resistant to rifampin. Multidrug resistance (clindamycin, moxifloxacin, and rifampin) was present in 27.5% of PCR-ribotype 027 strains but was rare in other ribotypes. These results suggest that antimicrobial resistance in North American isolates of C. difficile varies by strain type and parallels rates of resistance reported from Europe and the Far East.
Rationale: The Xpert MTB/RIF is an automated molecular test for Mycobacterium tuberculosis that estimates bacterial burden by measuring the threshold-cycle (Ct) of its M. tuberculosis–specific real-time polymerase chain reaction. Bacterial burden is an important biomarker for disease severity, infection control risk, and response to therapy.
Objectives: Evaluate bacterial load quantitation by Xpert MTB/RIF compared with conventional quantitative methods.
Methods: Xpert MTB/RIF results were compared with smear-microscopy, semiquantiative solid culture, and time-to-detection in liquid culture for 741 patients and 2,008 samples tested in a multisite clinical trial. An internal control real-time polymerase chain reaction was evaluated for its ability to identify inaccurate quantitative Xpert MTB/RIF results.
Measurements and Main Results: Assays with an internal control Ct greater than 34 were likely to be inaccurately quantitated; this represented 15% of M. tuberculosis–positive tests. Excluding these, decreasing M. tuberculosis Ct was associated with increasing smear microscopy grade for smears of concentrated sputum pellets (rs = −0.77) and directly from sputum (rs = −0.71). A Ct cutoff of approximately 27.7 best predicted smear-positive status. The association between M. tuberculosis Ct and time-to-detection in liquid culture (rs = 0.68) and semiquantitative colony counts (rs = −0.56) was weaker than smear. Tests of paired same-patient sputum showed that high-viscosity sputum samples contained ×32 more M. tuberculosis than nonviscous samples. Comparisons between the grade of the acid-fast bacilli smear and Xpert MTB/RIF quantitative data across study sites enabled us to identify a site outlier in microscopy.
Conclusions: Xpert MTB/RIF quantitation offers a new, standardized approach to measuring bacterial burden in the sputum of patients with tuberculosis.
tuberculosis; molecular diagnostics; diagnostic techniques and procedures; diagnosis; clinical trial
A total of 299 nares and 194 blood isolates of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), each recovered from a unique patient, were collected from 23 U.S. hospitals from May 2009 to March 2010. All isolates underwent spa and staphylococcal cassette chromosome mec element (SCCmec) typing and antimicrobial susceptibility testing; a subset of 84 isolates was typed by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) using SmaI. Seventy-six spa types were observed among the isolates. Overall, for nasal isolates, spa type t002-SCCmec type II (USA100) was the most common strain type (37% of isolates), while among blood isolates, spa type t008-SCCmec type IV (USA300) was the most common (39%). However, the proportion of all USA100 and USA300 isolates varied by United States census region. Nasal isolates were more resistant to tobramycin and clindamycin than blood isolates (55.9% and 48.8% of isolates versus 36.6% and 39.7%, respectively; for both, P < 0.05). The USA300 isolates were largely resistant to fluoroquinolones. High-level mupirocin resistance was low among all spa types (<5%). SCCmec types III and VIII, which are rare in the United States, were observed along with several unusual PFGE types, including CMRSA9, EMRSA15, and the PFGE profile associated with sequence type 239 (ST239) isolates. Typing data from this convenience sample suggest that in U.S. hospitalized patients, USA100 isolates of multiple spa types, while still common in the nares, have been replaced by USA300 isolates as the predominant MRSA strain type in positive blood cultures.
Accurate strain typing is critical for understanding the changing epidemiology of Clostridium difficile infections. We typed 350 isolates of toxigenic C. difficile from 2008 to 2009 from seven laboratories in the United States and Canada. Typing was performed by PCR-ribotyping, pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), and restriction endonuclease analysis (REA) of whole-cell DNA. The Cepheid Xpert C. difficile test for presumptive identification of 027/NAP1/BI isolates was also tested directly on original stool samples. Of 350 isolates, 244 (70%) were known PCR ribotypes, 224 (68%) were 1 of 8 common REA groups, and 187 (54%) were known PFGE types. Eighty-four isolates typed as 027, NAP1, and BI, and 83 of these were identified as presumptive 027/NAP1/BI by Xpert C. difficile. Eight additional isolates were called presumptive 027/NAP1/BI by Xpert C. difficile, of which three were ribotype 027. Five PCR ribotypes contained multiple REA groups, and three North American pulsed-field (NAP) profiles contained both multiple REA groups and PCR ribotypes. There was modest concordance of results among the three methods for C. difficile strains, including the J strain (ribotype 001 and PFGE NAP2), the toxin A-negative 017 strain (PFGE NAP9 and REA type CF), the 078 animal strain (PFGE NAP7 and REA type BK), and type 106 (PFGE NAP11 and REA type DH). PCR-ribotyping, REA, and PFGE provide different but overlapping patterns of strain clustering. Unlike the other methods, the Xpert C. difficile 027/NAP1/BI assay gave results directly from stool specimens, required only 45 min to complete, but was limited to detection of a single strain type.
Nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) for enterovirus RNA in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) have emerged as the new gold standard for diagnosis of enteroviral meningitis, and their use can improve the management and decrease the costs for caring for children with enteroviral meningitis. The Xpert EV assay (Cepheid, Sunnyvale, CA) is a rapid, fully automated real-time PCR test for the detection of enterovirus RNA that was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for in vitro diagnostic use in March 2007. In this multicenter trial we established the clinical performance characteristics of the Xpert EV assay in patients presenting with meningitis symptoms relative to clinical truth. Clinical truth for enteroviral meningitis was defined as clinical evidence of meningitis, the absence of another detectable pathogen in CSF, and detection of enterovirus in CSF either by two reference NAATs or by viral culture. A total of 199 prospectively and 235 retrospectively collected specimens were eligible for inclusion in this study. The overall prevalence of enteroviral meningitis was 26.04%. The Xpert EV assay had a sensitivity of 94.69% (90% confidence interval [CI] = 89.79 to 97.66%), specificity of 100% (90% CI = 99.07 to 100%), positive predictive value of 100%, negative predictive value of 98.17, and an accuracy of 98.62% relative to clinical truth. The Xpert EV assay demonstrated a high degree of accuracy for diagnosis of enteroviral meningitis. The simplicity and on-demand capability of the Xpert EV assay should prove to be a valuable adjunct to the evaluation of suspected meningitis cases.
A total of 525 cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples submitted during the 2007 and 2008 enteroviral seasons were included in a study to determine the prevalence of and potential risk factors for invalid Cepheid GeneXpert enterovirus assay (GXEA) results, as well as possible solutions for the problem. The invalid GXEA results were reported for 43 (8.2%) specimens and correlated with increased visibility of red blood cells (P < 0.0001) but not with CSF xanthochromia and clotting. Invalid GXEA result rates were markedly diminished by 82.1% and 96.0% and test sensitivities were minimally decreased by 1.7% and 3.6% when these specimens were tested at a 1:5 dilution and after a freeze-thaw cycle, respectively.
A prospective unblinded comparative evaluation of three assays for the detection of enteroviral RNA performed on 83 positive and 79 negative cerebrospinal fluid samples showed initial and resolved sensitivities of 90.4% and 98.8%, respectively, for the Cepheid GeneXpert enterovirus assay; 94.0% and 97.6%, respectively, for the Argene enterovirus consensus kit; and 100% and 100%, respectively, for an in-house real-time PCR. The initial and resolved specificities were 100% for all three assays.
Background: Mammaglobin mRNA expression is found in 70-80 % of primary and metastatic breast tumor biopsies. The potential breast tumor markers B305D, B726P and GABAπ complement the expression of mammaglobin. Collectively the expression profile of these four genes could be utilized as a diagnostic and prognostic indicator for breast cancer.
Methods: A multigene RT-PCR assay was established to detect the expression of mammaglobin, GABAπ, B305D and B726P simultaneously. Specific primers and Taqman® probes were used to analyze combined mRNA expression profiles in primary breast tumors and metastatic lymph node specimens.
Results: The multigene RT-PCR assay detected significant expression signals in 27/27 primary and in 50/50 lymph-node-metastatic breast tumor samples. Specificity studies demonstrated no significant expression signal in 27 non-breast cancer lymph nodes, in 22 various normal tissues or in 14 colon tumor samples.
Conclusion: The novel RT-PCR-based assay described here provides a sensitive detection system for disseminated breast tumor cells in lymph nodes. In addition, this multigene assay could also be used to test peripheral blood and bone marrow samples.
The aim of this study was to analyze the utility of a mammaglobin multigene RT-PCR assay and a mammaglobin sandwich ELISA to detect peripheral blood samples of breast cancer patients.
Peripheral blood samples of 147 untreated Senegalese women with biopsy confirmed breast cancer were collected. The samples were tested for mammaglobin and 3 breast cancer associated gene transcripts using a multigene real-time RT-PCR assay and for secreted mammaglobin protein using a sandwich ELISA format. Patient information regarding demographic and clinical staging of disease was also collected.
In 77 % of the breast cancer blood samples a positive expression signal was found using the multigene RT-PCR assay detecting mammaglobin and three complementary transcribed genes. 50 samples from healthy female donors tested negative. Circulating mammaglobin protein was found in 68 % of the breast cancer sera, whereas 38 % showed significantly elevated protein levels in comparison to a mixed control population. Statistical correlations were found between the detection of mammaglobin protein in serum, presence of mammaglobin mRNA expressing cells in blood, stage of disease and tumor size.
The multigene mammaglobin RT-PCR assay and mammaglobin sandwich ELISA could be valuable tools to detect metastatic disease and to monitor therapeutic efficiency. Both assays together provided a diagnostic sensitivity of 83 %. Use of the multigene RT-PCR increased detection sensitivity from 61 to 77 % in comparison to mammaglobin expression alone.
multigene RT-PCR; circulating tumor cell detection; breast cancer
A compound family of synthetic lipid A mimetics (termed the aminoalkyl glucosaminide phosphates [AGPs]) was evaluated in murine infectious disease models of protection against challenge with Listeria monocytogenes and influenza virus. For the Listeria model, intravenous administration of AGPs was followed by intravenous bacterial challenge 24 h later. Spleens were harvested 2 days postchallenge for the enumeration of CFU. For the influenza virus model, mice were challenged with virus via the intranasal/intrapulmonary route 48 h after intranasal/intrapulmonary administration of AGPs. The severity of disease was assessed daily for 3 weeks following challenge. Several types of AGPs provided strong protection against influenza virus or Listeria challenge in wild-type mice, but they were inactive in the C3H/HeJ mouse, demonstrating the dependence of the AGPs on toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) signaling for the protective effect. Structure-activity relationship studies showed that the activation of innate immune effectors by AGPs depends primarily on the lengths of the secondary acyl chains within the three acyl-oxy-acyl residues and also on the nature of the functional group attached to the aglycon component. We conclude that the administration of synthetic TLR4 agonists provides rapid pharmacologic induction of innate resistance to infectious challenge by two different pathogen classes, that this effect is mediated via TLR4, and that structural differences between AGPs can have dramatic effects on agonist activity in vivo.
Although two phenotypes of the opportunistic pathogen Propionibacterium acnes (types I and II) have been described, epidemiological investigations of their roles in different infections have not been widely reported. Using immunofluorescence microscopy with monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) QUBPa1 and QUBPa2, specific for types I and II, respectively, we investigated the prevalences of the two types among 132 P. acnes isolates. Analysis of isolates from failed prosthetic hip implants (n = 40) revealed approximately equal numbers of type I and II organisms. Isolates from failed prosthetic hip-associated bone (n = 6) and tissue (n = 38) samples, as well as isolates from acne (n = 22), dental infections (n = 8), and skin removed during surgical incision (n = 18) were predominately of type I. A total of 11 (8%) isolates showed atypical MAb labeling and could not be conclusively identified. Phylogenetic analysis of P. acnes by nucleotide sequencing revealed the 16S rRNA gene to be highly conserved between types I and II. In contrast, sequence analysis of recA and a putative hemolysin gene (tly) revealed significantly greater type-specific polymorphisms that corresponded to phylogenetically distinct cluster groups. All 11 isolates with atypical MAb labeling were identified as type I by sequencing. Within the recA and tly phylogenetic trees, nine of these isolates formed a cluster distinct from other type I organisms, suggesting a further phylogenetic subdivision within type I. Our study therefore demonstrates that the phenotypic differences between P. acnes types I and II reflect deeper differences in their phylogeny. Furthermore, nucleotide sequencing provides an accurate method for identifying the type status of P. acnes isolates.
Most reported U.S. zoonotic cases of babesiosis have occurred in the Northeast and been caused by Babesia microti. In Washington State, three cases of babesiosis have been reported previously, which were caused by WA1 (for “Washington 1”)-type parasites. We investigated a case of babesiosis in Washington in an 82–year-old man whose spleen had been removed and whose parasitemia level was 41.4%. The complete 18S ribosomal RNA gene of the parasite was amplified from specimens of his whole blood by polymerase chain reaction. Phylogenetic analysis showed the parasite is most closely related, but not identical, to B. divergens (similarity score, 99.5%), a bovine parasite in Europe. By indirect fluorescent-antibody testing, his serum reacted to B. divergens but not to B. microti or WA1 antigens. This case demonstrates that babesiosis can be caused by novel parasites detectable by manual examination of blood smears but not by serologic or molecular testing for B. microti or WA1-type parasites.
babesiosis; Babesia divergens; Babesia microti; Babesia odocoilei; EU1; MO1; WA1; CA1; 18S rRNA gene; Washington State; clindamycin; quinine
We examined the role of the cytokines gamma interferon (IFN-γ) and interleukin-12 (IL-12) in the model of acute babesiosis with the WA1 Babesia. Mice genetically deficient in IFN-γ-mediated responses (IFNGR2KO mice) and IL-12-mediated responses (Stat4KO mice) were infected with the WA1 Babesia, and observations were made on the course of infection and cytokine responses. Levels of IFN-γ and IL-12 in serum increased 24 h after parasite inoculation. The augmented susceptibility observed in IFNGR2KO and Stat-4KO mice suggests that the early IL-12- and IFN-γ-mediated responses are involved in protection against acute babesiosis. Resistance appears to correlate with an increase in nitric oxide (NO) production. In order to assess the contribution of different cell subsets to resistance against the parasite, we also studied mice lacking B cells, CD4+ T cells, NK cells, and macrophages. Mice genetically deficient in B lymphocytes or CD4+ T lymphocytes were able to mount protective responses comparable to those of immunosufficient mice. In contrast, in vivo depletion of macrophages or NK cells resulted in elevated susceptibility to the infection. Our observations suggest that a crucial part of the response that protects from the pathogenic Babesia WA1 is mediated by macrophages and NK cells, probably through early production of IL-12 and IFN-γ, and induction of macrophage-derived effector molecules like NO.
The need for improved diagnostic reagents to identify human long-term carriers of the zoonotic parasite Babesia microti is evidenced by numerous reported cases of transfusion-acquired infections. This report describes the identification and initial characterization of 27 clones representing seven genes or gene families that were isolated through serological expression cloning by using a technique that we specifically designed to screen for shed antigens. In this screen, sera from B. microti-infected SCID mice, putatively containing secreted or shed antigens from the parasites, were harvested and used to immunize syngeneic immunocompetent mice (BALB/c). After boosting, the sera from the BALB/c mice, containing antibodies against the immunodominant secreted antigens, were used to screen a B. microti genomic expression library. Analyses of the putative peptides encoded by the novel DNA sequences revealed characteristics indicating that these peptides might be secreted. Initial serological data obtained with recombinant proteins and a patient serum panel demonstrated that several of the proteins could be useful in developing diagnostic tests for detection of B. microti antibodies and antigens in serum.
Infection of severe combined immunodeficient mice with Babesia sp. strain WA1 was studied to assess the contributions of innate and adaptive immunity in resistance to acute babesiosis. The scid mutation showed little effect in genetically susceptible C3H mice and did not decrease the inherent resistance of C57BL/6 mice to the infection, suggesting that innate immunity plays a central role in determining the course of Babesia infection in these strains. In contrast, the scid mutation dramatically impaired resistance in moderately susceptible BALB/c mice, suggesting that acquired immunity may play an important secondary role. In comparison to their female counterparts, male mice of different genetic backgrounds showed increased resistance to the infection, indicating that the gender of the host may influence protection against babesiosis.
In a previous study which evaluated the BACTEC 9240 automated blood culture system (Becton Dickinson Diagnostic Instrument Systems, Sparks, Md.), we noted a 1.3% “instrument false-positive” rate. That is, the BACTEC system signaled that a bottle (BACTEC Plus Aerobic/F bottle or BACTEC Anaerobic Lytic/10 bottle) culture was positive but a Gram stain was negative and there was no growth of bacteria or yeasts on subculture to chocolate agar. Furthermore, from the same sample of blood, cultures for fungi using the Isolator blood culture system (Wampole Laboratories, Cranbury, N.J.) were negative for growth. For the present study, we evaluated 76 instrument false-positive samples for the presence of 16S ribosomal DNA using the MicroSeq 500 kit (PE Biosystems, Foster City, Calif.). These samples also were negative for fungi by the Isolator method. This kit has a PCR module and sequencing module for the amplification and sequencing of the 16S RNA gene and provides a database for sequence alignment and identification of bacteria. To optimize the assay, we evaluated the effect of adding 0.5% bovine serum albumin to the sample from blood culture bottles and found that it decreased the effects of inhibitors on the PCR. Two control groups of blood culture specimens were also evaluated. One group (n = 45) were “instrument true positives”; the instrument signaled positive, and subsequent Gram stains were positive and subcultures on chocolate agar grew bacteria. The other group (n = 20) were “instrument true negatives”; the instrument signaled negative, the Gram stain was negative, and subcultures on chocolate agar and from the Isolator tube on fungal media showed no growth. None of the 76 instrument false-positive samples had evidence for 16S rRNA gene sequences. All of the instrument true-positive samples and all of the instrument true-negative specimens were positive and negative, respectively, using the MicroSeq 500 kit. Total peripheral white blood cell counts were statistically significantly higher for patients who had instrument false-positive results than for patients who had instrument true-positive or true-negative results (P = 0.001). We conclude that instrument false positives signaled by the BACTEC 9240 system are not due to bacteria in the blood culture samples.
Improved diagnostics are needed for the detection of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, especially for patients with smear-negative disease. To address this problem, we have screened M. tuberculosis (H37Rv and Erdman strains) genomic expression libraries with pooled sera from patients with extrapulmonary disease and with sera from patients with elevated reactivity with M. tuberculosis lysate. Both serum pools were reactive with clones expressing a recombinant protein referred to here as MTB48. The genomic sequence of the resulting clones was identical to that of the M. tuberculosis H37Rv isolate and showed 99% identity to the Mycobacterium bovis and M. bovis BCG isolate sequences. The genomic location of this sequence is 826 bp upstream of a region containing the esat-6 gene that is deleted in the M. bovis BCG isolate. The mtb48 1,380-bp open reading frame encodes a predicted 47.6-kDa polypeptide with no known function. Southern and Western blot analyses indicate that this sequence is present in a single copy and is conserved in the M. tuberculosis and M. bovis isolates tested but not in other mycobacterial species tested, including Mycobacterium leprae and Mycobacterium avium. In addition, the native protein was detected in the cytoplasm, as was a processed form that was also shed into the medium during culture. Serological analysis of recombinant MTB48 and the M. tuberculosis 38-kDa antigen with a panel of patient and control sera indicates that the inclusion of recombinant MTB48 in a prototype serodiagnostic test increases assay sensitivity for M. tuberculosis infection when it is combined with other known immunodominant antigens, such as the 38-kDa antigen.
A panel of seven recombinant antigens, derived from Ehrlichia phagocytophila (the agent of human granulocytic ehrlichiosis), was evaluated by class-specific enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) for utility in the diagnosis of the infection. Fourteen genomic fragments, obtained by serologic expression screening, contained open reading frames (ORFs) encoding 16 immunodominant antigens. Eleven of these antigens were members of the major surface protein (MSP) multigene family. Alignment of their predicted protein sequences revealed a pattern of conserved sequences, which contained short direct repeats, flanking a variable region. In addition, two genomic clones contained two and three MSP ORFs, respectively, indicating that these genes are clustered in tandem copies. The implications for this pattern of both genomic and protein arrangements in antigenic variations of MSPs and in their utilities in a diagnostic assay are discussed. In addition to two MSP recombinant antigens (rHGE-1 and -3) and a fusion protein of these antigens (rErf-1), five further recombinants were evaluated by ELISA. Two of these antigens (rHGE-14 and -15) were novel, while a third (rHGE-2), with no known function, has been described. The final two recombinant antigens (rHGE-9 and -17) represent overlapping segments of the ankyrin gene (ank). The addition of rHGE-9 ELISA data resulted in the detection of 78% (21 of 27) of acute-phase sera. When serologic data for all recombinants are combined, 96.2% (26 of 27) of convalescent-phase patient serum samples and 85.2% (23 of 27) of acute-phase patient serum samples are detected, indicating the potential of these antigens for use in the development of a rapid serologic assay for the detection of E. phagocytophila infection.
Evaluation of drug resistance by human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) genotyping has proven to be useful for the selection of drug combinations with maximum antiretroviral activity. We compared three genotyping methods for identification of mutations known to confer drug resistance in the reverse transcriptase (RT) and protease genes of HIV type 1 (HIV-1). The HIV-GenotypR method (GenotypR; Specialty Laboratories, Inc., Santa Monica, Calif.) with the ABI 377 DNA sequencer (Applied Biosystems Inc.), the HIV PRT GeneChip assay (GeneChip; Affymetrix, Santa Clara, Calif.), and the HIV-1 RT Line Probe Assay (LiPA; Innogenetics, Alpharetta, Ga.) were used to genotype plasma samples from HIV-infected patients attending the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics and the Mayo Clinic. At the time of analysis, patients were failing combination therapy (n = 18) or were treatment naive (n = 6). Forty codons of the RT and protease genes were analyzed by GenotypR and GeneChip for resistance-associated mutations. LiPA analyzed seven RT codons for mutations. Each sample was genotyped by all three assays, and each assay was subjected to pairwise comparisons. At least 92% of the codons tested (by the three assays) in paired comparisons were concordant. GenotypR and GeneChip demonstrated 96.6% concordance over the 40 codons tested. GenotypR identified slightly more mutations than GeneChip and LiPA; GeneChip identified all primary mutations that corresponded to failing treatment regimens. Each assay identified at least 84% of the mutations identified by the other assays. Mutations that were discordant between the assays mainly comprised secondary mutations and natural polymorphisms. The assays had better concordance for mutations that corresponded to current failing regimens, present in the more predominant viral quasispecies. In the treatment-naive patients, GenotypR, GeneChip, and LiPA mainly identified wild-type virus. Only the LiPA identified K70R, a possible transmitted zidovudine resistance mutation, in the RT gene of a treatment-naive patient. We conclude that although discrepancies in results exist between assays, each assay showed a similar capacity to identify potentially clinically relevant mutations related to patient treatment regimens.
Babesiosis is an emerging, tick-transmitted, zoonotic disease caused by hematotropic parasites of the genus Babesia. Babesial parasites (and those of the closely related genus Theileria) are some of the most ubiquitous and widespread blood parasites in the world, second only to the trypanosomes, and consequently have considerable worldwide economic, medical, and veterinary impact. The parasites are intraerythrocytic and are commonly called piroplasms due to the pear-shaped forms found within infected red blood cells. The piroplasms are transmitted by ixodid ticks and are capable of infecting a wide variety of vertebrate hosts which are competent in maintaining the transmission cycle. Studies involving animal hosts other than humans have contributed significantly to our understanding of the disease process, including possible pathogenic mechanisms of the parasite and immunological responses of the host. To date, there are several species of Babesia that can infect humans, Babesia microti being the most prevalent. Infections with Babesia species generally follow regional distributions; cases in the United States are caused primarily by B. microti, whereas cases in Europe are usually caused by Babesia divergens. The spectrum of disease manifestation is broad, ranging from a silent infection to a fulminant, malaria-like disease, resulting in severe hemolysis and occasionally in death. Recent advances have resulted in the development of several diagnostic tests which have increased the level of sensitivity in detection, thereby facilitating diagnosis, expediting appropriate patient management, and resulting in a more accurate epidemiological description.
Increased recognition of the prevalence of human babesiosis in the United States, together with rising concern about the potential for transmission of this infection by blood transfusion, has provided motivation to develop definitive serologic and molecular tests for the causative agent, Babesia microti. To develop more sensitive and specific assays for B. microti, we screened a genomic expression library with patient serum pools. This screening resulted in the identification of three classes of novel genes and an additional two novel, unrelated genes, which together encode a total of 17 unique B. microti antigens. The first class (BMN1-2 family) of genes encodes seven closely related antigens with a degenerate six-amino-acid repeat that shows limited homology to Plasmodium sp. merozoite and sporozoite surface antigens. A second class (BMN1-8 family) of genes encodes six related antigens, and the third class (BMN1-17 family) of genes encodes two related antigens. The two remaining genes code for novel and unrelated sequences. Among the three classes of antigens and remaining novel sequences, five were chosen to code for the most immunodominant antigens (BMN1-2, -9, -15, and -17 and MN-10). Western blot analysis with the resulting recombinant proteins indicated that these antigens were targets of humoral immune responses during B. microti infection in humans.
Identification of coryneform bacteria to the species level is important in certain circumstances for differentiating contamination and/or colonization from infection, which influences decisions regarding clinical intervention. However, methods currently used in clinical microbiology laboratories for the species identification of coryneform bacteria are often inadequate. We evaluated the MicroSeq 500 16S bacterial sequencing kit (Perkin-Elmer Biosystems, Foster City, Calif.), which is designed to sequence the first 527 bp of the 16S rRNA gene for bacterial identification, by using 52 coryneform gram-positive bacilli from clinical specimens isolated from January through June 1993 at the Mayo Clinic. Compared to conventional and supplemented phenotypic methods, MicroSeq provided concordant results for identification to the genus level for all isolates. At the species level, MicroSeq provided concordant results for 27 of 42 (64.3%) Corynebacterium isolates and 5 of 6 (83.3%) Corynebacterium-related isolates, respectively. Within the Corynebacterium genus, MicroSeq gave identical species-level identifications for the clinically significant Corynebacterium diphtheriae (4 of 4) and Corynebacterium jeikeium (8 of 8), but it identified only 50.0% (15 of 30) of other species (P < 0.01). Four isolates from the genera Arthrobacter, Brevibacterium, and Microbacterium, which could not be identified to the species level by conventional methods, were assigned a species-level identification by MicroSeq. The total elapsed time for running a MicroSeq identification was 15.5 to 18.5 h. These data demonstrate that the MicroSeq 500 16S bacterial sequencing kit provides a potentially powerful method for the definitive identification of clinical coryneform bacterium isolates.
The epidemiologic relatedness of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) isolates is currently determined by analysis of chromosomal DNA restriction patterns by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). We have evaluated an alternative typing system (MicroSeq StaphTrack Kit; Perkin-Elmer Biosystems) based on the sequence analysis of the chromosomally encoded polymorphic repeat X region of the S. aureus protein A (spa) gene. A total of 69 clinical MRSA isolates were divided into 18 groups according to the number and nucleotide sequences of the spa repeats. Molecular typing results obtained both by spa sequencing and from the PFGE patterns were concordant except for one group, which contained 20 isolates recovered over a 2-year period from hospitalized patients at the Mayo Clinic. Although the spa typing patterns were indistinguishable for those isolates, PFGE analysis yielded seven related but distinguishable patterns. Further coagulase gene sequence analysis subtyped those 20 strains into four groups which followed distinct temporal and geographic distributions. During a 2-year epidemic period there were up to 7 fragment changes in PFGE patterns among epidemiologically related isolates, suggesting that PFGE may be unsuitable for long-term typing of strains involved in epidemics. Although more limited than PFGE in discriminatory power, spa sequencing analysis could be used as a screening method for typing of MRSA strains because of the shorter turnaround time, ease of use, and the inherent advantages of sequence analysis, storage, and sharing of information.
Two unique isolates of Borrelia burgdorferi, differing in plasmid content and outer surface protein C expression, were cultured on sequential captures of a single free-living Peromyscus leucopus mouse and were examined for differences in transmissibility. Both isolates were transmissible from inoculated C.B-17 mice to larval Ixodes scapularis ticks and, subsequently, from infected nymphal ticks to C3H/HeJ mice. Plasmid and protein analyses suggested that the original isolates were a mixed population of B. burgdorferi, and cloning by limiting dilution resulted in the identification of two clonal groups. In addition to being heterogeneous in plasmid and genomic macrorestriction analyses, the clones varied with respect to the electrophoretic mobilities and antigenicity of their OspC proteins, as shown by their reactivity to a panel of monoclonal antibodies. Plasmid analysis of sequential isolates from C3H mice experimentally infected with the primary isolate or various mixtures of its subclones showed an apparently random fluctuation in clonal dominance in the majority of mice. Surprisingly, mice infected with each subclone were permissive to superinfection with the heterologous subclone, despite the presence of anti-B. burgdorferi antibodies at the time of the secondary challenge. These results show conclusively that mice captured at Lyme disease enzootic sites may be infected by mixed populations of genetically and antigenically distinct B. burgdorferi clones and that these infections can be acquired by coinfection or by sequential infection. The lack of cross-immunization between clones existing within a naturally occurring population may play a role in the maintenance of the genetic heterogeneity of B. burgdorferi in nature.