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Infect Immun. 1999 Nov;67(11):5930-7.

Molecular characterization of the locus encoding biosynthesis of the lipopolysaccharide O antigen of Escherichia coli serotype O113.

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Molecular Microbiology Unit, Women's and Children's Hospital, North Adelaide, S.A. 5006, Australia.


Shiga toxigenic Escherichia coli (STEC) strains are a diverse group of organisms capable of causing severe gastrointestinal disease in humans. Within the STEC family, eae-positive STEC strains, particularly those belonging to serogroups O157 and O111, appear to have greater virulence for humans. However, in spite of being eae negative, STEC strains belonging to serogroup O113 have frequently been associated with cases of severe STEC disease, including hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS). Western blot analysis with convalescent-phase serum from a patient with HUS caused by an O113:H21 STEC strain indicated that human immune responses were directed principally against lipopolysaccharide O antigen. Accordingly, the serum was used to isolate a clone expressing O113 O antigen from a cosmid library of O113:H21 DNA constructed in E. coli K-12. Sequence analysis indicated that the O113 O-antigen biosynthesis (rfb) locus contains a cluster of nine genes which may be cotranscribed. Comparison with sequence databases identified candidate genes for four glycosyl transferases, an O-acetyl transferase, an O-unit flippase, and an O-antigen polymerase, as well as copies of galE and gnd. Two additional, separately transcribed genes downstream of the O113 rfb region were predicted to encode enzymes involved in synthesis of activated sugar precursors, one of which (designated wbnF) was essential for O113 O-antigen synthesis, and so is clearly a part of the O113 rfb locus. Interestingly, expression of O113 O antigen by E. coli K-12 significantly increased in vitro adherence to both HEp-2 and Henle 407 cells.

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