Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 24008232
Euro Surveill. 2013 Aug;18(35):20566
Multiple-locus variable-number of tandem repeats analysis (MLVA) is widely used for typing of pathogens. Methods such as MLVA based on determining DNA fragment size by the use of capillary electrophoresis have an inherent problem as a considerable offset between measured and real (sequenced) lengths is commonly observed. This discrepancy arises from variation within the laboratory set-up used for fragment analysis. To obtain comparable results between laboratories using different set-ups, some form of calibration is a necessity. A simple approach is to use a set of calibration strains with known allele sizes and determine what compensation factors need to be applied under the chosen set-up conditions in order to obtain the correct allele sizes. We present here a proof-of-concept study showing that using such a set of calibration strains makes inter-laboratory comparison possible. In this study, 20 international laboratories analysed 15 test strains using a five-locus Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium MLVA scheme. When using compensation factors derived from a calibration set of 33 isolates, 99.4% (1,461/1,470) of the MLVA alleles of the test strains were assigned correctly, compared with 64.8% (952/1,470) without any compensation. After final analysis, 97.3% (286/294) of the test strains were assigned correct MLVA profiles. We therefore recommend this concept for obtaining comparable MLVA results.