The aim of this study was to explore a gene chip capable of detecting the presence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis isolates directly in clinical sputum specimens and to compare it with current molecular detection techniques. At first, we selected 13 M. tuberculosis-specific target genes to construct a gene chip for rapid diagnosis. Using the membrane array method, we diagnosed M. tuberculosis by gene chip directly from 246 sputum specimens from patients suspected of having tuberculosis. Among 80 M. tuberculosis complex (MTBC) culture-positive sputum specimens, the MTBC detection rate was 62.5% (50/80) by PCR–restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP), 70% (56/80) by acid-fast staining, and 85% (68/80) by the membrane array method. Furthermore, subspecies showed different gene expression patterns in the membrane array. In conclusion, MTBC could be detected directly in sputum by the membrane array method. The rapidity of detection and the capability of differentiating subspecies could make this method useful in the control and prevention of tuberculosis.
Clinical Microbiology and Infection.16(8),1090–1096