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Infect Immun. Feb 1986; 51(2): 397–404.
PMCID: PMC262339

Serogroup specificity of Legionella pneumophila is related to lipopolysaccharide characteristics.


We studied the lipopolysaccharide (LPS) of Legionella pneumophila and six other Legionella species to determine whether strain differences were apparent. The LPS was purified by a cold ethanol extraction procedure, and total carbohydrates represented 10 to 20% of LPS weight. 2-keto-3-deoxyoctonate represented 1 to 13% of the total carbohydrate present in the LPS. By sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, all strains except L. dumoffi showed smooth-type LPS with multiple high-molecular-weight complexes. Proteinase K-treated, whole-cell lysates showed profiles similar to those of purified LPS. Each serogroup of L. pneumophila and each Legionella species had a distinct sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis profile. L. pneumophila lipid A is antigenically related to the lipid A of Enterobacteriaceae. In immunoblot assays with the LPS of L. pneumophila serogroups 1 to 6 as antigens, serogroup-specific immune monkey sera recognized homologous purified LPS, but not the LPS of the five heterologous serogroups. These studies indicate that LPS composition may be a determinant of serogroup specificity as defined by the immunofluorescence-based serogrouping schema for L. pneumophila and other Legionella species.

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