Pyrazinamide (PZA) is an important first-line drug in all existing and new tuberculosis (TB) treatment regimens. PZA-resistance in M. tuberculosis is increasing, especially among M/XDR cases. Noted issues with PZA Drug Susceptibility Testing (DST) have driven the search for alternative tests. This study provides a comprehensive assessment of PZA molecular diagnostics in M/XDR TB cases. A set of 296, mostly XDR, clinical M. tuberculosis isolates from four countries were subjected to DST for eight drugs, confirmatory Wayne’s assay, and whole-genome sequencing. Three genes implicated in PZA resistance, pncA, rpsA, and panD were investigated. Assuming all non-synonymous mutations cause resistance, we report 90% sensitivity and 65% specificity for a pncA-based molecular test. The addition of rpsA and panD potentially provides 2% increase in sensitivity. Molecular heterogeneity in pncA was associated with resistance and should be evaluated as a diagnostic tool. Mutations near the N-terminus and C-terminus of PZase were associated with East-Asian and Euro-American lineages, respectively. Finally, Euro-American isolates are most likely to have a wild-type PZase and escape molecular detection. Overall, the 8-10% resistance without markers may point to alternative mechanisms of resistance. Confirmatory mutagenesis may improve the disconcertingly low specificity but reduce sensitivity since not all mutations may cause resistance. Link to paper: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-03452-y
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