Identification of Streptococcus pneumoniae by a real-time PCR assay targeting SP2020

Débora A. Tavares, Sara Handem, Ricardo J. Carvalho, A. Cristina Paulo, Hermínia de Lencastre, Jason Hinds, Raquel Sá-Leão

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16 Citations (Scopus)


Real-time PCR targeting lytA (the major autolysin gene) and piaB (permease gene of the pia ABC transporter) are currently used as the gold-standard culture-independent assays for Streptococcus pneumoniae identification. We evaluated the performance of a new real-time PCR assay – targeting SP2020 (putative transcriptional regulator gene) – and compared its performance with the assays previously described. A collection of 150 pneumococci, 433 non-pneumococci and 240 polymicrobial samples (obtained from nasopharynx, oropharynx, and saliva; 80 from each site) was tested. SP2020 and lytA-CDC assays had the best performance (sensitivity of 100% for each compared to 95.3% for piaB). The specificity for lytA and piaB was 99.5% and for SP2020 was 99.8%. Misidentifications occurred for the three genes: lytA, piaB and SP2020 were found in non-pneumococcal strains; piaB was absent in some pneumococci including a serotype 6B strain. Combining lytA and SP2020 assays resulted in no misidentifications. Most polymicrobial samples (88.8%) yielded concordant results for the three molecular targets. The remaining samples seemed to contain non-typeable pneumococci (0.8%), and non-pneumococci positive for lytA (1.7%) or SP2020 (8.7%). We propose that combined detection of both lytA-CDC and SP2020 is a powerful strategy for the identification of pneumococcus either in pure cultures or in polymicrobial samples.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3285
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019


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