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Influence of Primer Sequences and DNA Extraction Method on Detection of Non-O157 Shiga Toxin–Producing Escherichia coli in Ground Beef by Real-Time PCR Targeting the eae, stx, and Serogroup-Specific Genes

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Non-O157 Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli (STEC) infections, particularly those caused by the “big six” or “top six” non-O157 serogroups (O26, O45, O103, O111, O121, and O145) can result in severe illness and complications. Because of their significant public health impact and the notable prevalence of STEC in cattle, methods for detection of the big six non-O157 STEC in ground beef have been established. Currently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service detection methods for screening beef samples for non-O157 STEC target the stx 1, stx 2, and eae virulence genes, with the 16S rRNA gene as an internal control, in a real-time PCR multiplex assay. Further, the serogroup is determined by PCR targeting genes in the E. coli O-antigen gene clusters of the big six non-O157 serogroups. The method that we previously reported was improved so that additional stx variants, stx 1d, stx 2e, and stx 2g, are detected. Additionally, alignments of the primers targeting the eae gene were used to improve the detection assay so that eae subtypes that could potentially be of clinical significance would also be detected. Therefore, evaluation of alternative real-time PCR assay primers and probes for the stx and eae reactions was carried out in order to increase the stx and eae subtypes detected. Furthermore, a Tris-EDTA DNA extraction method was compared with a previously used procedure that was based on a commercially available reagent. The Tris-EDTA DNA extraction method significantly decreased the cycle threshold values for the stx assay (P < 0.0001) and eae assay (P < 0.0001), thereby increasing the ability to detect the targets. The use of different stx primers and probes increased the subtypes detected to include stx 1d, stx 2e, and stx 2g, and sequence data showed that modification of the eae primer should allow the known eae subtypes to be detected.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Eastern Regional Research Center, 600 East Mermaid Lane, Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania 19038, USA; U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Russell Research Center, 950 College Station Road, Athens, Georgia 30605, USA 2: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Eastern Regional Research Center, 600 East Mermaid Lane, Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania 19038, USA. 3: Food Safety and Inspection Service, Outbreak Section of the Eastern Laboratory, 950 College Station Road, Athens, Georgia 30605, USA

Publication date: November 1, 2012

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