The newly proposed 15- and 24-loci mycobacterial interspersed repetitive unit (MIRU)-variable-number tandem repeat (VNTR) typing method was evaluated for its ability to differentiate 181 Mycobacterium tuberculosis Beijing family strains. Compared with the original 12-loci MIRU-VNTR typing method, the 15-loci system dramatically improved the discriminatory power for Beijing strains; however, large clusters that could be further differentiated by IS6110 restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) were still obtained. The clonal stability and allelic diversity of a total of 31 VNTR loci were evaluated. VNTRs 3232, 3820, and 4120 were identified as the effective hypervariable VNTR set for the second-line typing of clustered strains following the 15-loci based scheme. Consequently, the discriminatory power of the new scheme (18 loci) equaled that of IS6110 RFLP.
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