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Infect Immun. 1982 Sep;37(3):956-60.

K antigen and serum sensitivity of rough Escherichia coli.


We prepared bacterial hybrids which express both K1 and K27 antigens and examined the relative contributions of these capsules to serum resistance. Escherichia coli Hfr strain F639 (rough, K27+, serum sensitive) was conjugated with E. coli recipient strain E412 (rough, K1+, His- Trp- Strr, serum resistant). Transconjugants which inherited both the his and trp linked genes for K27 antigen synthesis were analyzed. These hybrids retained and expressed the K1 antigen since the K1 locus is nonallelic with K27 gene loci. Hybrid strains which express both K1 and K27 antigens exhibit serum resistance, but not at the level of the K1+ parental strain. An isogenic K1 derivative of a hybrid which expressed only K27 antigen was serum sensitive (greater than 99% kill, 60 min). These findings indicate that the presence of the K1 capsular antigen can protect some rough strains of E. coli from serum bactericidal activity, whereas K27 and perhaps other K antigens fail to provide such a protective effect.

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