Comparison of phenotypic and genotypic methods for pyrazinamide susceptibility testing with Mycobacterium tuberculosis

A P Davies, O J Billington, T D McHugh, D A Mitchison, S H Gillespie

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Mycobacterium tuberculosis converts pyrazinamide to its active form by using the enzyme pyrazinamidase. This enzyme is coded for on the pncA gene, and mutations in the pncA gene result in absence of active enzyme, conferring resistance to the drug pyrazinamide, We investigated 27 strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis suspected of being multidrug resistant. Each isolate was tested for susceptibility to pyrazinamide by the BACTEC 460TB method, and 19 were pyrazinamide resistant, The presence of active pyrazinamidase enzyme was sought by using the Wayne assay, which was positive in ail of the sensitive isolates and four of the resistant isolates. The pncA gene was amplified by PCR, and mutations were sought by single-strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP) analysis, We identified four isolates which were phenotypically resistant to pyrazinamide, but which had active pyrazinamide enzyme on the Wayne assay and normal pncA gene SSCP, MICs measured by BACTEC 460TB and susceptibility testing at a lower pH of 5.5 confirmed genuine resistance, The pncA gene was sequenced in these four isolates and found not to have any mutations. This implies that an alternative mechanism of resistance exists in these strains. We conclude that genotypic assessment of pyrazinamide resistance is unreliable, because it depends on the identification of a single resistance mechanism. Phenotypic methods such as the BACTEC 460TB technique remain the best methods for pyrazinamide susceptibility testing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3686-3688
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Clinical Microbiology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2000




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