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Emerging antimicrobial resistance is a significant threat to human health. However, methods for rapidly diagnosing antimicrobial resistance generally require multi-day culture-based assays. Macrolide efflux gene A, mef(A), provides resistance against erythromycin and azithromycin and is known to be laterally transferred among a wide range of bacterial species.
We use Recombinase Polymerase Assay (RPA) to detect the antimicrobial resistance gene mef(A) from raw lysates without nucleic acid purification. To validate these results we performed broth dilution assays to assess antimicrobial resistance to erythromycin and ampicillin (a negative control).
We validate the detection of mef(A) in raw lysates of Streptococcus pyogenes, S. pneumoniae, S. salivarius, and Enterococcus faecium bacterial lysates within 7–10 min of assay time. We show that detection of mef(A) accurately predicts real antimicrobial resistance assessed by traditional culture methods, and that the assay is robust to high levels of spiked-in non-specific nucleic acid contaminant. The assay was unaffected by single-nucleotide polymorphisms within divergent mef(A) gene sequences, strengthening its utility as a robust diagnostic tool.
This finding opens the door to implementation of rapid genomic diagnostics in a clinical setting, while providing researchers a rapid, cost-effective tool to track antibiotic resistance in both pathogens and commensal strains.