Development of a multiplex-PCR for Direct Detection of the Genes for Enterotoxin B and C, and Toxic Shock Syndrome toxin-1 in Staphylococcus Aureus Isolates

J Med Microbiol. 1998 Apr;47(4):335-40. doi: 10.1099/00222615-47-4-335.


As well as conventional methods such as immunodiffusion, ELISA, or agglutination for the detection of toxin production in Staphylococcus aureus, amplification techniques like PCR allow a very sensitive and specific identification of the genes responsible for enterotoxin B and C, and TSST-1 production. These toxins might be a cause of the toxic shock syndrome (TSS). For that reason an easy and quick test system for determining the toxin production pattern of S. aureus isolates is desirable so that strains suspected to be toxin producers may be identified much faster and easier. In the present investigation, a new multiplex-PCR method was used that allowed single bacterial colonies grown on agar plates to be used directly in the PCR assay without preceding preparation. This procedure generated information concerning the presence of seb, sec-1 and tst genes within 4 h in a single test. To analyse the sensitivity and the specificity of this procedure, 100 methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA), 50 coagulase-negative staphylococci and 50 other eubacterial isolates were tested initially with sets of single primer pairs followed by a combined multiplex-PCR. Results of this amplification technique were compared to a conventional and widely used method for toxin detection, reversed passive latex agglutination (RPLA). With the RPLA assay results as the basis, sensitivity and specificity of the seb and tst primer sets were 100%, whereas sensitivity and specificity of the sec-1 primer set were 100% and 82%, respectively. With the sec-1 primer set, two isolates were identified as carrying the corresponding toxin gene although the RPLA test did not show any detectable toxin. The multiplex-PCR rapidly generated reliable information concerning the toxin-producing capacity of staphylococcal strains and could be easily integrated into a multiplex procedure described previously. The latter enabled the identification of specific PCR products for eubacteria and staphylococci as well as the detection of the coa and mecA genes.

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Toxins*
  • Enterotoxins / biosynthesis
  • Enterotoxins / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Latex Fixation Tests
  • Methicillin Resistance
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Staphylococcus aureus / drug effects
  • Staphylococcus aureus / genetics*
  • Staphylococcus aureus / metabolism
  • Superantigens*


  • Bacterial Toxins
  • Enterotoxins
  • Superantigens
  • enterotoxin F, Staphylococcal
  • enterotoxin B, staphylococcal
  • enterotoxin C, staphylococcal