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Microbiology. 2003 Jun;149(Pt 6):1409-21.

The Edwardsiella ictaluri O polysaccharide biosynthesis gene cluster and the role of O polysaccharide in resistance to normal catfish serum and catfish neutrophils.

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Department of Basic Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, MS 39762-6100, USA.


Edwardsiella ictaluri, the causative agent of enteric septicaemia of catfish (ESC), expresses long O polysaccharide (OPS) chains on its surface. The authors previously reported the construction of an isogenic Ed. ictaluri OPS mutant strain and demonstrated that this strain is avirulent in channel catfish. This paper reports the cloning of the Ed. ictaluri OPS biosynthesis gene cluster and identification of the mutated gene in the OPS-negative strain. The sequenced region contains eight complete ORFs and one incomplete ORF encoding LPS biosynthesis enzymes. The mutated gene (designated wbiT) was similar to other bacterial galactose-4-epimerases. Glycosyl composition analysis indicated that wild-type Ed. ictaluri OPS contains higher amounts of galactose and N-acetylgalactosamine than the OPS mutant strain, which correlated well with predicted functions of the genes identified in the OPS biosynthesis cluster. The OPS mutant had a relatively small, but significant, decrease in its ability to survive in normal catfish serum compared to wild-type Ed. ictaluri, but it retained the ability to resist killing by catfish neutrophils.

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