Rapid and sensitive methods for accurate strain delineation are essential for monitoring and preventing transmission of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) has been the standard technique for strain typing most bacterial species including MRSA. The goal of this study was to compare the performance of the DiversiLab microbial typing system (Bacterial BarCodes, Inc., Houston, TX) (rep-PCR) to that of PFGE for typing MRSA isolates from five well-defined outbreaks. The DiversiLab rep-PCR assay is a rapid, semiautomated method based on PCR amplification of specific regions between noncoding repetitive sequences in the bacterial genome. rep-PCR was performed according to the manufacturer's recommendations, and the results were analyzed and dendrograms were generated using the DiversiLab analysis software (version 2.1.66a). PFGE was performed and interpreted according to published procedures. rep-PCR results using similarity indices (SI) of 80%, 85%, and 90% were compared to PFGE analysis. In addition, intra- and interrun reproducibility was determined for rep-PCR. Overall, correct assignment to outbreak versus nonoutbreak clusters occurred for 91 of 109 isolates (85% agreement) when using a SI of 85%. For each specific outbreak, concordance between rep-PCR and PFGE ranged from 73% to 100%. There were 18 discrepant results (17%). Fourteen isolates were unique by PFGE, but they were placed in clusters by rep-PCR; the other 4 were placed in clusters different from those assigned by PFGE. Intra- and interrun reproducibility was excellent. Times to results were 12 to 24 h for rep-PCR compared to 2 to 4 days for PFGE. Rapid, standardized results and excellent reproducibility make rep-PCR a valuable tool for use in MRSA investigations. However, since rep-PCR was less discriminatory than PFGE, we recommend that it be used to screen isolates, followed by testing isolates which share the same rep-PCR pattern with a more sensitive method, such as PFGE or multilocus sequence typing.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Microbiology (medical)