por Variable-Region Typing by DNA Probe Hybridization Is Broadly Applicable to Epidemiologic Studies of Neisseria gonorrhoeae
The porin gene (porB) of Neisseria gonorrhoeae encodes the major outer membrane protein identified as PI or Por. To examine the utility of por variable-region (VR) typing, porB from 206 isolates was characterized by using oligonucleotide probes in a checkerboard hybridization assay that identifies the sequence types of five VRs of both PIA and PIB porB alleles. The strains represented temporally and geographically distinct isolates, isolates from a large cluster, epidemiologically linked partner isolates, and a collection of strains from disseminated gonococcal infections. By using rigorous epidemiologic criteria for transmission of infection between sex partners, por VR typing was more discriminatory than serovar typing in classifying isolates from both members of 43 epidemiologically linked pairs: 39 of 43 pairs were classified as coinciding by por VR typing compared to 43 of 43 by serovar determination (P = 0.058). porB sequence data confirmed the accuracy of the por VR method. Relationships between VR type and serovar typing monoclonal antibodies were observed for all six PIB and three of six PIA antibodies. por VR typing is a molecular tool that appears to have broad applicability. This method can be adapted to a wide range of technologies from simple hybridization to microarray and may allow for typing from noncultured clinical specimens.