Centre d'Infectiologie Christophe Mérieux Emerging Pathogens Laboratory Rodolphe Mérieux Laboratory of Haiti

High-Throughput Mycobacterial Interspersed Repetitive-Unit–Variable-Number Tandem-Repeat Genotyping for Mycobacterium tuberculosis Epidemiological Studies

Marie Gauthier, Floriane Bidault, Amandine Mosnier, Nino Bablishvili, Nestani Tukvadze, Silaphet Somphavong, Phimpha PABORIBOUNE, Oksana Ocheretina, Jean William Pape, Glaucia Paranhos-Baccala and Jean-Luc Berland

J Clin Microbiol. 2015 Feb;53(2):498-503. doi: 10.1128/JCM.01611-14


The emergence of drug-resistant forms of tuberculosis (TB) represents a major public health concern. Understanding the transmission routes of the disease is a key factor for its control and for the implementation of efficient interventions. Mycobacterial interspersed repetitive-unit–variable-number tandem-repeat (MIRU-VNTR) marker typing is a well-described method for lineage identification and transmission tracking. However, the conventional manual genotyping technique is cumbersome and time-consuming and entails many risks for errors, thus hindering its implementation and dissemination. We describe here a new approach using the QIAxcel system, an automated high-throughput capillary electrophoresis system that also carries out allele calling. This automated method was assessed on 1,824 amplicons from 82 TB isolates and tested with sets of markers of 15 or 24 loci. Overall allele-calling concordance between the methods from 140 to 1,317 bp was 98.9%. DNA concentrations and repeatability and reproducibility performances showed no biases in allele calling. Furthermore, turnaround time using this automated system was reduced by 81% compared to the conventional manual agarose gel method. In sum, this new automated method facilitates MIRU-VNTR genotyping and provides reliable results. Therefore, it is well suited for field genotyping. The implementation of this method will help to achieve accurate and cost-effective epidemiological studies, especially in countries with a high prevalence of TB, where the high number of strains complicates the surveillance of circulating lineages and requires efficient interventions to be carried out in an urgent manner.

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