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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2000 Aug 15;189(2):281-4.

NeuD plays a role in the synthesis of sialic acid in Escherichia coli K1.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunolgy, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY 14642, USA.


The polysialic acid capsule of Escherichia coli K1 is an essential virulence determinant. The kps gene cluster, which encodes the proteins necessary for polymer synthesis and transport, is divided into three functional regions. In this report, we present evidence that the neuD gene from region 2 is involved in sialic acid synthesis. A non-polar chromosomal deletion in neuD was constructed. The defect was complemented by neuD in trans or by the addition of exogenous sialic acid. A NeuD homologue, Neu(III)D, from serotype III Streptococcus agalactiae (GBS) also restored capsule expression to the neuD deletion strain. These data confirm the role of neuD in E. coli sialic acid capsule synthesis and demonstrate that the neu(III)D homologue from GBS shares a similar enzymatic function.

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