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J Bacteriol. 2008 Mar;190(5):1671-9. Epub 2007 Dec 21.

lfnA from Pseudomonas aeruginosa O12 and wbuX from Escherichia coli O145 encode membrane-associated proteins and are required for expression of 2,6-dideoxy-2-acetamidino-L-galactose in lipopolysaccharide O antigen.

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  • 1Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario N1G 2W1, Canada.


The rare sugar 2,6-dideoxy-2-acetamidino-L-galactose (L-FucNAm) is found only in bacteria and is a component of cell surface glycans in a number of pathogenic species, including the O antigens of Pseudomonas aeruginosa serotype O12 and Escherichia coli O145. P. aeruginosa is an important opportunistic pathogen, and the O12 serotype is associated with multidrug-resistant epidemic outbreaks. O145 is one of the classic non-O157 serotypes associated with Shiga toxin-producing, enterohemorrhagic E. coli. The acetamidino (NAm) moiety of L-FucNAm is of interest, because at neutral pH it contributes a positive charge to the cell surface, and we aimed to characterize the biosynthesis of this functional group. The pathway is not known, but expression of NAm-modified sugars coincides with the presence of a pseA homologue in the relevant biosynthetic locus. PseA is a putative amidotransferase required for synthesis of a NAm-modified sugar in Campylobacter jejuni. In P. aeruginosa O12 and E. coli O145, the pseA homologues are lfnA and wbuX, respectively, and we hypothesized that these genes function in L-FucNAm biosynthesis. Sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, Western blotting, and nuclear magnetic resonance analysis of the lfnA mutant O-antigen structure indicated that the mutant expresses 2,6-dideoxy-2-acetamido-L-galactose (L-FucNAc) in place of L-FucNAm. The mutation could be complemented by expression of either His(6)-tagged lfnA or wbuX in trans, confirming that these genes are functional homologues and that they are required for NAm moiety synthesis. Both proteins retained their activity when fused to a His(6) tag and localized to the membrane fraction. These data will assist future biochemical investigation of this pathway.

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