Streptococcus suis serotype 16 can infect pigs and humans. We describe the identification and the characterization of the capsular polysaccharides synthesis locus of S. suis serotype 16. Using PCR primers flanking the capsular polysaccharides synthesis locus, a 30,101-bp fragment was amplified. Twenty-nine open reading frames related to transcriptional regulation, glycosyl transfer, oligosaccharide repeat unit polymerization, polysaccharide transport, sialic acid synthesis and modification were identified. The data suggests that the serotype 16 capsule is synthesized by a Wzy-dependent pathway. So far, no rapid and sensitive diagnostic method is available for detection of serotype 16 isolates. A serotype specific PCR test for the rapid and sensitive detection of S. suis serotype 16 was developed. Cross hybridization experiments of individual cps genes with chromosomal DNAs of 33 serotypes showed that the cps16G and cps16K genes hybridized with serotype 16 only. Primers based on cps16G were used to develop a serotype 16 specific PCR. The PCR assay was successfully used to identify S. suis serotype 16 in the 99 Chinese S. suis clinical isolates and 8 European isolates
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