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BMC microbiology

Identification and quantification of virulence factors of enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli by high-resolution melting curve quantitative PCR.


PMID 28506262

Abstract

Diagnosis of enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC) associated diarrhea is complicated by the diversity of E.coli virulence factors. This study developed a multiplex quantitative PCR assay based on high-resolution melting curves analysis (HRM-qPCR) to identify and quantify genes encoding five ETEC fimbriae related to diarrhea in swine, i.e. K99, F41, F18, F6 and K88. Five fimbriae expressed by ETEC were amplified in multiple HRM-qPCR reactions to allow simultaneous identification and quantification of five target genes. The assay was calibrated to allow quantification of the most abundant target gene, and validated by analysis of 30 samples obtained from piglets with diarrhea and healthy controls, and comparison to standard qPCR detection. The five amplicons with melting temperatures (Tm) ranging from 74.7 ± 0.06 to 80.5 ± 0.15 °C were well-separated by HRM-qPCR. The area of amplicons under the melting peak correlated linearly to the proportion of the template in the calibration mixture if the proportion exceeded 4.8% (K88) or <1% (all other amplicons). The suitability of the method was evaluated using 30 samples from weaned pigs aged 6-7 weeks; 14 of these animals suffered from diarrhea in consequence of poor sanitary conditions. Genes encoding fimbriae and enterotoxins were quantified by HRM-qPCR and/or qPCR. The multiplex HRM-qPCR allowed accurate analysis when the total gene copy number of targets was more than 1 × 10 The multiplex HRM assay identifies ETEC virulence factors specifically and efficiently. It correctly indicated the predominant fimbriae type and additionally provides information of presence/ absence of other fimbriae types and it could find broad applications for pathogen diagnosis.

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