Genotypic analysis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in two distinct populations using molecular beacons: Implications for rapid susceptibility testing

Amy S. Piatek, Amalio Telenti, Megan R. Murray, Hiyam El-Hajj, William R. Jacobs, Fred Russell Kramer, David Alland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

194 Scopus citations


Past genotypic studies of Mycobacterium tuberculosis may have incorrectly estimated the importance of specific drug resistance mutations due to a number of sampling biases including an overrepresentation of multidrug-resistant (MDR) isolates. An accurate assessment of resistance mutations is crucial for understanding basic resistance mechanisms and designing genotypic drug resistance assays. We developed a rapid closed-tube PCR assay using fluorogenic reporter molecules called molecular beacons to detect reportedly common M. tuberculosis mutations associated with resistance to isoniazid and rifampin. The assay was used in a comparative genotypic investigation of two different study populations to determine whether these known mutations account for most cases of clinical drug resistance. We analyzed samples from a reference laboratory in Madrid, Spain, which receives an overrepresentation of MDR isolates similar to prior studies and from a community medical center in New York where almost all of the resistant isolates and an equal number of susceptible controls were available. The ability of the molecular beacon assay to predict resistance to isoniazid and rifampin was also assessed. The overall sensitivity and specificity of the assay for isoniazid resistance were 85 and 100%, respectively, and those for rifampin resistance were 98 and 100%, respectively. Rifampin resistance mutations were detected equally well in isolates from both study populations; however, isoniazid resistance mutations were detected in 94% of the isolates from Madrid but in only 76% of the isolates from New York (P = 0.02). In New York, isoniazid resistance mutations were significantly more common in the MDR isolates (94%) than in single-drug-resistant isolates (44%; P < 0.001). No association between previously described mutations in the kasA gene and isoniazid resistance was found. The first mutations that cause isoniazid resistance may often occur in sequences that have not been commonly associated with isoniazid resistance, possibly in other as yet uncharacterized genes. The molecular beacon assay was simple, rapid, and highly sensitive for the detection of rifampin-resistant M. tuberculosis isolates and for the detection of isoniazid resistance in MDR isolates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-110
Number of pages8
JournalAntimicrobial agents and chemotherapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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