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J Infect Dis. 2012 Oct;206(8):1227-32. Epub 2012 Aug 16.

Urethral exudates of men with Neisseria gonorrhoeae infections select a restricted lipooligosaccharide phenotype during transmission.

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  • 1Veterans Affairs Medical Center, University of California San Francisco, CA, USA.


Neisseria gonorrhoeae lipooligosaccharides (LOSs) induce immunoglobulin G that protects men from experimental infection. This raises the possibility that an LOS vaccine might prevent gonorrhea. Gonococci make different LOS molecules, depending on whether 3 genes, lgtA, lgtC, and lgtD, are in frame (IF) or out of frame (OOF). Mispairing of polymeric guanine (polyG) tracts within each gene determines its frame during replication. We amplified lgtA, lgtC, and lgtD from diagnostic slides of urethral exudates and sequenced their polyG tracts. We found that lgtA in exudative bacteria is IF and that lgtC is OOF. The frame of lgtD varied widely: it was OOF in most but not all cases. This genotype would result in synthesis of polylactosamine α chains that could be sialylated. Polylactosamine α chains would enhance virulence, and their sialylation would enable gonococci to survive within polymorphonuclear cells; however, an active LgtD in a few bacteria could provide a survival advantage in other sites of infection.

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