AIM--To develop a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for the specific detection of the C protein gene in strains of group B Streptococcus. METHODS--A single primer pair derived from the nucleotide sequence of the IgA binding beta antigen of the C protein complex permitted the specific amplification of a 592 base pair DNA fragment from the C protein gene. After 35 cycles of amplification this product could be detected by agarose gel electrophoresis. Southern blot hybridisation confirmed that this product was the C protein gene. RESULTS--PCR detected the C protein gene in 75 (63%) of 119 strains of group B streptococci analysed. The product was not detected in other Gram positive organisms, showing that this PCR assay was highly specific. The sensitivity of the assay was satisfactory to a dilution of 1 in 10,000 of extracted DNA. CONCLUSIONS--The C protein of group B streptococci is associated with neonatal sepsis. The specific detection of the C protein gene by PCR may help identify which strains are likely to be associated with infection by the organism.
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