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Development of O-antigen gene cluster-specific PCRs for rapid typing six epidemic serogroups of Leptospira in China

Cheng-Song Cai1, Yong-Zhang Zhu1, Yi Zhong23, Xiao-Fang Xin4, Xiu-Gao Jiang5, Xiao-Li Lou1, Ping He1, Jin-Hong Qin1, Guo-Ping Zhao236, Sheng-Yue Wang6* and Xiao-Kui Guo1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Medical Microbiology and Parasitology, Institutes of Medical Sciences, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, Shanghai 200025, China

2 Cell Biology/Key Laboratory of Synthetic Biology, Institute of Plant Physiology and Ecology, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai 200032, China

3 Key Laboratory of Systems Biology, Institute of Biochemistry, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai 200032, China

4 1st Bacterial Vaccine Division, National Institute for the Control of Pharmaceutical and Biological Products, Beijing 100050, China

5 National Institute for Communicable Disease Control and Prevention, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (ICDC, China CDC), PO Box 5, Changping, Beijing 102206, China

6 Shanghai-MOST Key Laboratory of Health and Disease Genomics, Chinese National Human Genome Center at Shanghai, Shanghai, China

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BMC Microbiology 2010, 10:67  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-10-67

Published: 3 March 2010



Leptospira is the causative agent of leptospirosis. The O-antigen is the distal part of the lipopolysaccharide, which is a key component of outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria and confers serological specificity. The epidemiology and clinical characteristics of leptospirosis are relative to the serology based taxonomic unit. Identification of Leptospira strains by serotyping is laborious and has several drawbacks.


In this study, the O-antigen gene clusters of four epidemic Leptospira serogroups (serogroup Canicola, Autumnalis, Grippotyphosa and Hebdomadis) in China were sequenced and all genes were predicted in silico. Adding published sequences of two serogroups, Icterohaemorrhagiae (strain Lai and Fiocruz L1-130) and Sejroe (strain JB197 and L550), we identified six O-antigen-specific genes for six epidemic serogroups in China. PCR assays using these genes were developed and tested on 75 reference strains and 40 clinical isolates.


The results show that the PCR-based assays can be reliable and alternative means for rapid typing of these six serogroups of Leptospira.