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J Bacteriol. 2002 May;184(9):2379-88.

Endotoxin of Neisseria meningitidis composed only of intact lipid A: inactivation of the meningococcal 3-deoxy-D-manno-octulosonic acid transferase.

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  • 1Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA 30303, USA.


Lipopolysaccharide, lipooligosaccharide (LOS), or endotoxin is important in bacterial survival and the pathogenesis of gram-negative bacteria. A necessary step in endotoxin biosynthesis is 3-deoxy-D-manno-octulosonic acid (Kdo) glycosylation of lipid A, catalyzed by the Kdo transferase KdtA (WaaA). In enteric gram-negative bacteria, this step is essential for survival. A nonpolar kdtA::aphA-3 mutation was created in Neisseria meningitidis via allelic exchange, and the mutant was viable. Detailed structural analysis demonstrated that the endotoxin of the kdtA::aphA-3 mutant was composed of fully acylated lipid A with variable phosphorylation but without Kdo glycosylation. In contrast to what happens in other gram-negative bacteria, tetra-acylated lipid IV(A) did not accumulate. The LOS structure of the kdtA::aphA-3 mutant was restored to the wild-type structure by complementation with kdtA from N. meningitidis or Escherichia coli. The expression of a fully acylated, unglycosylated lipid A indicates that lipid A biosynthesis in N. meningitidis can proceed without the addition of Kdo and that KdtA is not essential for survival of the meningococcus.

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