Polymerase chain reaction for the detection of Mycobacterium leprae.
A polymerase chain reaction (PCR) using heat-stable Taq polymerase is described for the specific detection of Mycobacterium leprae, the causative agent of leprosy. A set of primers was selected on the basis of the nucleotide sequence of a gene encoding the 36 kDa antigen of M. leprae. With this set of primers in the PCR, M. leprae could be detected specifically with a detection limit approximating one bacterium. This PCR appears to meet the criteria of specificity and sensitivity required for a useful tool in epidemiology and eventually for the control of leprosy.