Deoxyribonucleic acid sequences specific for a pathogen of interest can be isolated from a variety of microorganisms. Such DNA probes can be exploited to detect infectious agents directly in infected material despite the presence of large numbers of other organisms and host DNA. This technology is dependent upon the recognition of a specific nucleotide sequence present in DNA extracted from a clinical sample by a radiolabeled or nonisotopically labeled DNA probe. We have isolated several DNA probes for the detection of pathogenic Neisseria which include a plasmid species unique to the gonococcus, as well as several cloned genes that detect both the gonococcus and the meningococcus. In addition, we have characterized a unique plasmid of Chlamydia trachomatis that has proved to be quite useful as a DNA probe for the detection of this pathogen in cervical secretions and, by in situ hybridization, in Papanicolaou smears. Deoxyribonucleic acid hybridization as a diagnostic tool is still in its infancy. It holds a number of advantages over conventional methods of pathogen detection and serves as an alternative, as well as a complement, to available immunologic methods.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases
- Immunology and Allergy
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology