Pyrazinamide susceptibility testing of Mycobacterium tuberculosis by high resolution melt analysis

Suporn Pholwat, Suzanne Stroup, Jean Gratz, Varittha Trangan, Suporn Foongladda, Happiness Kumburu, Saumu Pazia Juma, Gibson Kibiki, Eric Houpt
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Pyrazinamide (PZA) plays the important role in shortening the tuberculosis treatment period and in treating MDR-TB. Phenotypic PZA susceptibility methods are limited because they require specialized acidified media, which increases costs and complexity. In this study we developed a genotypic high resolution melt (HRM) analysis technique to detect pncA mutations associated with PZA resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Seven overlapping primer pairs were designed to cover the entire pncA gene and upstream regions. Each gene segment was individually amplified by real-time PCR followed by HRM analysis. The assay was evaluated on 98 clinical M. tuberculosis isolates (41 PZA susceptible by MGIT method, 55 PZA resistant, 2 undetermined). HRM was 94% concordant to full-length sequencing results, with most discrepancies attributable to mixed populations per HRM or transversions. Sequencing and HRM yielded 82% and 84% concordance, respectively, to phenotypic PZA susceptibilities by MGIT, with most discrepancies attributable to isolates with wild-type pncA but phenotypic PZA resistance. This HRM technique is a simple and high-throughput method for screening clinical M. tuberculosis samples for PZA resistance.