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J Bacteriol. 1996 Apr;178(7):2102-7.

An O-antigen processing function for Wzx (RfbX): a promising candidate for O-unit flippase.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, University of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.


O antigen is the major cell surface antigen of gram-negative bacteria, and the genes responsible for its synthesis are located in a single gene cluster. The wzx (rbfX) gene, which is characteristic of the major class of O-antigen gene clusters, encodes a hydrophobic protein with 12 potential transmembrane segments. We demonstrate that a wzx mutant accumulates undecaprenol pyrophosphate-linked O units which appear to be on the cytoplasmic side of the cytoplasmic membrane, suggesting that the wzx gene encodes a flippase for O-unit translocation across that membrane.

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