Detection of macrolide resistance in Mycoplasma pneumoniae by real-time PCR and high-resolution melt analysis

Bernard J Wolff, W Lanier Thacker, Stephanie B Schwartz, Jonas M Winchell
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 2008, 52 (10): 3542-9
Mycoplasma pneumoniae is a significant cause of community-acquired pneumonia, which is often empirically treated with macrolides or azalides such as erythromycin or azithromycin. Recent studies have discovered the existence of macrolide-resistant strains within the population that have been mapped to mutations within the domain V region of the 23S rRNA gene. Currently, identification of these resistant strains relies on time-consuming and labor-intensive procedures such as restriction fragment length polymorphism, MIC studies, and sequence analysis. The current study reports two distinct real-time PCR assays that can detect the A2063G or A2064G base mutation (A2058G or A2059G by Escherichia coli numbering) conferring macrolide resistance. By subjecting the amplicon of the targeted domain V region of the 23S rRNA gene to a high-resolution melt curve analysis, macrolide-resistant strains can quickly be separated from susceptible strains. Utilizing this method, we screened 100 clinical isolates and found 5 strains to possess mutations conferring resistance. These findings were concordant with both sequencing and MIC data. This procedure was also used successfully to identify both susceptible and resistant genotypes in 23 patient specimens. These patient specimens tested positive for the presence of M. pneumoniae by a separate real-time PCR assay, although the bacteria could not be isolated by culture. This is the first report of a real-time PCR assay capable of detecting the dominant mutations that confer macrolide resistance on M. pneumoniae, and these assays may have utility in detecting resistant strains of other infectious agents. These assays may also allow for clinicians to select appropriate treatment options more rapidly and may provide a convenient method to conduct surveillance for genetic mutations conferring antibiotic resistance.

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