This work describes the development and evaluation of a multiplex polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for the detection of Bacillus anthracis strains harbouring plasmid pX02. The multiplex also incorporated an internal control (IC) to avoid false negative reactions. Internal controls consisted of plasmids containing modified PCR target sequences, corresponding to the capC and BA813 genes of B. anthracis, which were then co-amplified with the original target sequences using the same set of amplimers. The initial IC construct comprised of an internally deleted form of the genomic target sequence cloned into pUC19. A series of nested DNA fragments corresponding to the 23S rRNA sequences of Bacillus cereus were then subcloned into the point of deletion, producing a number of IC constructs with similar sequences but increasing product size on PCR amplification. Neither the presence of IC DNA template or IC PCR product size affected the specificity or non-specific cross-reactivity of the original PCR assay. The concentration of IC was critical, too much IC DNA template would out compete the genomic DNA template, thus giving a false negative result. However, when the concentration of IC was optimal assay sensitivity was not compromised.
Copyright 1998 Academic Press