Analysis of the clonal relationships between strains of Neisseria meningitidis by pulsed field gel electrophoresis.
Bygraves JA., Maiden MC.
Fingerprint patterns were generated from strains of Neisseria meningitidis by digestion of chromosomal DNA samples with 'rare-site' restriction endonucleases and resolution of the resultant fragments by pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). The potential of this technique for the rapid establishment of the clonal relationships between different isolates of the meningococcus was investigated. The fingerprint patterns from various serogroup A strains, previously assigned to clonal subgroups on the basis of their electrophoretic types (ETs), were compared. Fingerprints generated with the endonucleases SfiI, SpeI and NheI each gave distinctive patterns for the clonal subgroups I-IV of serogroup A. Further, the endonucleases SpeI and, particularly, NheI were capable of resolving differences between various subgroup III strains isolated at different times and geographical locations. Strains isolated during the 'new wave' pandemic, which was associated with the Haj, from Europe, America, and Africa, had a characteristic fingerprint pattern and appeared to be distinct from 'old wave' pandemic strains. The PFGE technique is a relatively rapid and sensitive method for establishing clonal relationships among epidemic strains of N. meningitidis.