Detection of Staphylococcus aureus Enterotoxins A to D by Real-Time Fluorescence PCR Assay


American Society for Microbiology


Staphylococcus aureus is one of the most significant pathogens causing nosocomial and community-acquired infections. Among the secreted staphylococcal virulence factors, there is a growing list of enterotoxins which can induce gastroenteric syndrome and toxic shock syndrome. Here, we developed a real-time fluorescence PCR assay (TaqMan PCR) for the detection of genes encoding staphylococcal enterotoxins A, B, C1, and D (SEA, SEB, SEC1, and SED) of S. aureus as well as the mecA gene encoding methicillin resistance and the femB gene as a specific genomic marker for S. aureus. SEA to SED were selected because they are the four classically described enterotoxins of S. aureus and because they were detected by latex agglutination. In order to evaluate the reliability of TaqMan PCR, we investigated 93 isolates of S. aureus derived from patients at our hospital over 5 months and compared the results with data obtained by a commerciall available reversed passive latex agglutination assay (SET-RPLA) for these isolates. Thirteen enterotoxin genes were detected by TaqMan PCR; however, no proteins expressed by these genes were detected by SET-RPLA. As a result, more isolates of S. aureus (n = 44) were found positive by TaqMan PCR for one or more enterotoxin genes than by SET-RPLA for the respective proteins expressed by these genes (n = 40). We conclude that TaqMan PCR is more sensitive because it offers the possibility for determining enterotoxins on a genotypic basis. Additionally, the assay allows the parallel detection of genes for SEA to SED and methicillin resistance in S. aureus. Furthermore, real-time PCR is well suited for screening large numbers of samples at the same time, allowing rapid, reliable, efficient, and cost-saving routine laboratory diagnosis.

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