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Mol Microbiol. 2000 Feb;35(3):529-41.

Genetic and biochemical evidence of a Campylobacter jejuni capsular polysaccharide that accounts for Penner serotype specificity.

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Department of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University of London, Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT, UK.


Campylobacter jejuni, a Gram-negative spiral bacterium, is the most common bacterial cause of acute human gastroenteritis and is increasingly recognized for its association with the serious post-infection neurological complications of the Miller-Fisher and Guillain-Barré syndromes. C. jejuni lipopolysaccharide (LPS) is thought to be involved in the pathogenesis of both uncomplicated infection and more serious sequelae, yet the LPS remains poorly characterized. Current studies on C. jejuni suggest that all strains produce lipooligosaccharide (LOS), with about one-third of strains also producing high-molecular-weight LPS (referred to as O-antigen). In this report, we demonstrate the presence of the high-molecular-weight LPS in all C. jejuni strains tested. Furthermore, we show that this LPS is biochemically and genetically unrelated to LOS and is similar to group II and group III capsular polysaccharides. All tested kpsM, kpsS and kpsC mutants of C. jejuni lost the ability to produce O-antigen. Moreover, this correlated with serotype changes. We demonstrate for the first time that the previously described O-antigen of C. jejuni is a capsular polysaccharide and a common component of the thermostable antigen used for serotyping of C. jejuni.

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