The investigation of the truncated mbtA gene within the mycobactin cluster of Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis as a novel diagnostic marker for real-time PCR



Document Type




Publication Details

Journal of Microbiological Methods

© 2017 Elsevier Ltd


The inability of Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP) to produce endogenous mycobactin in-vitro is most likely due to the presence of a truncated mbtA gene within the mycobactin cluster of MAP. The main goal of this study was to investigate this unique mbtA truncation as a potential novel PCR diagnostic marker for MAP. Novel primers were designed that were located within the truncated region and the contiguous MAP2179 gene. Primers were evaluated against non-MAP isolates and no amplicons were generated. The detection limit of this mbtA-MAP2179 target was evaluated using a range of MAP DNA concentrations, MAP inoculated faecal material and 20 MAP isolates. The performance of mbtA-MAP2179 was compared to the established f57 target. The detection limits recorded for MAP K-10 DNA and from MAP K-10 inoculated faecal samples were 0.34 pg and 104 CFU/g respectively for both f57 and mbtA-MAP2179. A detection limit of 103 CFU/g was recorded for both targets, but not achieved consistently. The detection limit of MAP from inoculated faecal material was successful at 103 CFU/g for mbtA-MAP2179 when FAM probe real-time PCR was used. A MAP cell concentration of 102 CFU/g was detected successfully, but again not consistently achieved. All 20 mycobacterial isolates were successfully identified as MAP by f57 and mbtA-MAP2179. Interestingly, the mbtA-MAP2179 real-time PCR assay resulted in the formation of a unique melting curve profile that contained two melting curve peaks rather than one single peak. This melting curve phenomenon was attributed towards the asymmetrical GC% distribution within the mbtA-MAP2179 amplicon. This study investigated the implementation of the mbtA-MAP2179 target as a novel diagnostic marker and the detection limits obtained with mbtA-MAP2179 were comparable to the established f57 target, making the mbtA-MAP2179 an adequate confirmatory target. Moreover, the mbtA-MAP2179 target could be implemented in multiplex real-time PCR assays and with its unique melting curve profile adds increased specificity to MAP diagnostic tests.

This document is currently not available here.