Public Health Resources


Date of this Version



Journal of Microbiological Methods 125 (2016) 70–80


U.S. Government Work


Non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) are foodborne pathogens of growing concern worldwide that have been associated with several recent multistate and multinational outbreaks of foodborne illness. Rapid and sensitive molecular-based bacterial strain discrimination methods are critical for timely outbreak identification and contaminated food source traceback. One such method, multiple-locus variable-number tandemrepeat analysis(MLVA), is being used with increasing frequency in foodborne illness outbreak investigations to augment the current gold standard bacterial subtyping technique, pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). The objective of this studywas to develop a MLVA assay for intra- and inter-serogroup discrimination of six major non-O157 STEC serogroups—O26, O111, O103, O121, O45, and O145—and performa preliminary internal validation of the method on a limited number of clinical isolates. The resultant MLVA scheme consists of ten variable number tandem repeat (VNTR) loci amplified in three multiplex PCR reactions. Sixty-five unique MLVA types were obtained among 84 clinical non-O157 STEC strains comprised of geographically diverse sporadic and outbreak related isolates. Compared to PFGE, the developed MLVA scheme allowed similar discrimination among serogroups O26, O111, O103, and O121 but not among O145 and O45. To more fully compare the discriminatory power of this preliminary MLVA method to PFGE and to determine its epidemiological congruence, a thorough internal and external validation needs to be performed on a carefully selected large panel of strains, including multiple isolates from single outbreaks.