The opportunistic human pathogen Propionibacterium acnes is comprised of a number of distinct phylogroups, designated types IA1, IA2, IB, IC, II and III, that vary in their production of putative virulence factors, inflammatory potential, as well as biochemical, aggregative and morphological characteristics. Although Multilocus Sequence Typing (MLST) currently represents the gold standard for unambiguous phylogroup classification, and individual strain identification, it is a labour and time-consuming technique. As a consequence, we have developed a multiplex touchdown PCR assay that will, in a single reaction, confirm species identity and phylogeny of an isolate based on its pattern of reaction with six primer sets that target the 16S rRNA (all isolates), ATPase (type IA1, IA2, IC), sodA (type IA2, IB), atpD (type II) and recA (type III) housekeeping genes, as well as a Fic family toxin gene (type IC). When applied to 312 P. acnes isolates previously characterised by MLST, and representing type IA1 (n=145), IA2 (n=20), IB (n=65), IC (n=7), II (n=45) and III (n=30), the multiplex displayed 100% sensitivity and 100% specificity for the detection of isolates within each targeted phylogroup. No cross-reactivity with isolates from other bacterial species was observed. The multiplex assay will provide researchers with a rapid, high-throughput and technically undemanding typing method for epidemiological and phylogenetic investigations. It will facilitate studies investigating the association of lineages with various infections and clinical conditions, as well as a pre-screening tool to maximise the number of genetically diverse isolates selected for downstream, higher resolution sequence-based analyses.
Barnard, E., Nagy, I., Hunyadkürti, J., Patrick, S., & McDowell, A. (2015). Multiplex Touchdown PCR for Rapid Typing of the Opportunistic Pathogen Propionibacterium acnes. Journal of Clinical Microbiology, 53(4), 1149-1155. https://doi.org/10.1128/JCM.02460-14