Send to

Choose Destination
Can J Microbiol. 1992 Jul;38(7):705-10.

Capsules of Escherichia coli, expression and biological significance.

Author information

Max-Planck-Institut für Immunbiologie, Freiburg-Zähringen, Germany.


Escherichia coli may cause intestinal or extraintestinal infections. Generally, extraintestinal E. coli are encapsulated. The capsules are important virulence determinants, which enable the pathogenic bacteria to evade or counteract the unspecific host defense during the early (preimmune) phase of infection. They interfere with the action of complement and phagocytes. This effect is generally transient and overcome by capsule-specific antibodies in the immune phase of the host defense. In some cases, capsules are not or only poorly immunogenic, as a result of structural relationship or identity with host material. Strains with such capsules (e.g., K1 or K5) are very virulent. Bacterial capsules consist of acidic polysaccharides, which are made up from oligosaccharide repeating units. The capsules of E. coli are divided into two groups, which differ in chemistry, biochemistry, and genetic organization. All capsular polysaccharides are chromosomally determined: those of group I close to his and those of group II close to serA. The biosynthesis and surface expression have been extensively studied with representatives of group II capsular polysaccharides. It could be shown that their biosynthesis is directed from a gene block that determines the synthesis of the polysaccharide, its translocation across the cytoplasmic membrane, as well as its surface expression in a coordinate process. The chemical nature of group II capsular polysaccharides, as well as the mechanism(s) of their biosynthesis and expression, is presented.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon
Loading ...
Support Center