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A duplex SYBR Green I real-time quantitative PCR assay for detecting Escherichia coli O157:H7

Author(s): X. Yang*, H.W. Cheng*, L. Chen, J. Zhao, H.T. Chang, X.W. Wang, H.Y. Liu, H.X. Yao, L.X. Zhang and C.Q. Wang

PCR and hybridization assays are widely used for the detection and identification of Escherichia coli serogroups and serotypes. We used these techniques for the detection of E. coli O157:H7, a dominant serogroup among E. coli strains that are considered major public health problems worldwide. We developed a quantitative PCR assay using SYBR Green I, based on the published sequences of the rfbE and fliC genes from E. coli O157:H7. This method detected the E. coli O157:H7 O somatic antigen gene and the flagellar antigen gene simultaneously, with good specificity, sensitivity, and repeatability. The sensitivity of the assay was 2.95 x 10 copies/μL, which is 103 times more sensitive than obtained with a conventional PCR. The intra-assay and inter-assay coefficients of variation were less than 2%. We concluded that this duplex quantitative PCR assay is adequate for the identification and quantitative analysis of E. coli O157:H7. This provides a new identification method for clinical diagnosis of E. coli O157:H7 and for food safety analysis, as well as for molecular epidemiological studies of foodborne diseases.