Serogroup-specific multiplex PCR

Strains of D. nodosus are divisible into ten immunologically distinct serogroups (A to I, and M). Conventional multiplex polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests were developed to identify and differentiate serogroups A to I.

Dhungyel, O. P., Whittington, R. J., Egerton, J. R. 2002, ‘Serogroup specific single and multiplex PCR with pre-enrichment culture and immuno-magnetic bead capture for identifying strains of D. nodosus in sheep with footrot prior to vaccination’, Molecular and Cellular Probes 16(4), pp. 285-296


The identification of Dichelobacter nodosus present in a flock is a prerequisite to specific (autogenous) vaccination. Current methods of identification of the serogroup present in a population requires that the organisms be isolated, identified visually in mixed culture on streak plates, subcultured to purify and subjected to antigenic analysis. This process takes at least 3 to 4 weeks. This study describes the development of a simple and rapid serogroup specific PCR test for D. nodosus. A common forward primer was designed from the conserved amino-terminal region of the fimbrial gene (fimA) and 9 (A – I) serogroup specific reverse primers were designed from the carboxy-terminal regions of fimA of the different serogroups. To verify the specificity within D. nodosus, each specific primer pair was tested in PCR against 18 serogroups/serotypes (prototypes) and found to be specific for all the serotypes within the homologous serogroups. Eighty four other bacterial strains, either commonly occurring in sheep or found in the environment of sheep, and including organisms related taxonomically to D. nodosus, were used to check the specificity of these assays. They were found to be specific for D. nodosus as none of the 84 bacterial stains reacted. These primers detected 1 pg of purified chromosomal DNA, or 50 – 100 cells of D. nodosus in crude lysates. Sensitivity was markedly improved when an immunomagnetic capture was employed. Single tube multiplex PCRs were tested with different combinations of common forward primer and groups of 3, 4 or 5 reverse primers chosen so that amplicon size for each reaction product was different. These were able to amplify DNA of isolates from all the relevant serogroups included in the reactions. These tests were evaluated with samples taken directly from lesions of footrot, either directly or preceded by DNA purification, immuno-magnetic capture, enrichment broth culture and culture on hoof agar media. Of these methods only PCR on mixed colonies from 4-day-old cultures on 4% hoof agar media yielded results of practical value.

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