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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2001 Apr 13;197(2):229-33.

The failure of different strains of Yersinia pestis to produce lipopolysaccharide O-antigen under different growth conditions is due to mutations in the O-antigen gene cluster.

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Defence Evaluation and Research Agency, CBD Porton Down, Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK.


The lipopolysaccharide (LPS) from eight strains of Yersinia pestis which had been cultured at 28 degrees C appeared to be devoid of an O-antigen when analysed by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. LPS isolated from three of these strains which had been cultured at 37 degrees C also appeared to be devoid of an O-antigen. When the LPS from Y. pestis strain CO92 was purified and analysed by matrix-assisted laser desorption-ionisation time-of-flight mass spectrometry, the observed signals were in the mass range predicted for molecules containing lipid A plus the core oligosaccharide but lacking an O-antigen. The nucleotide sequence of Y. pestis strain CO92 revealed the presence of a putative O-antigen gene cluster. However, frame-shift mutations in the ddhB, gmd, fcl and ushA genes are likely to prevent expression of the O-antigen thus explaining the loss of phenotype.

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