Design and evaluation of PCR primers which differentiate Escherichia coli O157:H7 and related serotypes

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To develop methods to differentiate Escherichia coli O157:H7 and related serotypes by the use of amplicon length polymorphism (ALP) analysis based on identifying DNA sequence deletions within highly homologous regions of three sequenced E. coli strains.

Methods and Results

Potential primer locations along the ancestral genomic backbone were identified and evaluated against three sequenced genomes and then applied to a reference set of pathogenic E. coli strains. All 16 primer combinations generated the expected diagnostic fragments as predicted for the E. coli K12 MG1655, O157:H7 EDL933, and O157:H7B Sakai genomes.


This study defines a collection of primers distributed along the length of the E. coli genome that were applied to ALP analysis methods to successfully differentiate between serotypes of E. coli O157:H7 and other E. coli serotypes.

Significance and Impact of the Study

ALP-PCR analysis method was validated as an independent method of classification when compared with that of rep-PCR. The principles underlying ALP analysis can be readily applied for the detection and differentiation of other closely related microbial species because of the abundance of complete DNA sequence data for a large number of microbial genomes.

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