Molecular typing of virulence genes in enterotoxigenic Bacillus cereus

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Gracias, Kiev S.
McKillip, John L.
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Thesis (D. Ed.)
Department of Biology
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Bacillus cereus causes emesis and/or diarrhea following ingestion of contaminated food due to the production of emetic toxins and enterotoxins. SYBR Green I is used as an intercalating dye and its florescence increases as a result of DNA amplification during real-time PCR. A second-derivative plot is obtained at the end of the PCR run, where amplicons are differentiated based on their DNA melting temperature (Tm). DNA was extracted from Tryptic Soy Broth (TSB) and 2.5% Nonfat Dry Milk (NFDM)-grown B. cereus at cell densities of 10',106,105,104,0,102, and 101 cfu/ml. In order to detect the multiple virulence determinants in pathogenic B. cereus, specific primers were used to target three enterotoxigenic genes (hblC, nheA, and hblA), followed by melt-curve analysis to confirm identity. Conditions used for this experiment allowed for the reproducible distinction of melt curves (characteristic Tm) for each amplicon (hblC = 74.5°C in TSB and 75°C in NFDM; nheA = 78°C; and hblA = 85.5°C in TSB and 84°C in NFDM) with an assay sensitivity of 106 CFU/ml in TSB and 10' CFU/ml in NFDM. B. cereus, nheA expression was examined in cells grown in TSB using transcript-specific, real-time nucleic acid sequence-based amplification (NASBA) with SYBR Green II. NASBA was applied to ascertain relative levels of nheA expression, when cells were subjected to subinhibitory levels of chloramphenicol as a stressor. B. cereus demonstrated consistently high levels of nheA expression at 15 hours when grown in TSB containing subinhibitory concentration (SIC) chloramphenicol (15.625 mg/ml). Relative levels of nheA expression differed in stressed B. cereus cells grown during the 30 hours incubation.