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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2003 Oct;69(10):6099-105.

Molecular analysis of the rfb O antigen gene cluster of Salmonella enterica serogroup O:6,14 and development of a serogroup-specific PCR assay.

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  • 1Foodborne and Diarrheal Diseases Branch, Division of Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia 30333, USA.


The Kauffmann-White scheme for serotyping Salmonella recognizes 46 somatic (O) antigen groups, which together with detection of the flagellar (H) antigens form the basis for serotype identification. Although serotyping has become an invaluable typing method for epidemiological investigations of Salmonella, it does have some practical limitations. We have been characterizing the genes required for O and H antigen biosynthesis with the goal of developing a DNA-based system for the determination of serotype in Salmonella. The majority of the enzymes involved in O antigen biosynthesis are encoded by the rfb gene cluster. We report the sequencing of the rfb region from S. enterica serotype Sundsvall (serogroup O:6,14). The S. enterica serotype Sundsvall rfb region is 8.4 kb in length and comprises six open reading frames. When compared with other previously characterized rfb regions, the serogroup O:6,14 sequence is most related to serogroup C(1). On the basis of DNA sequence similarity, we identified two genes from the mannose biosynthetic pathway, two mannosyl transferase genes, the O unit flippase gene and, possibly, the O antigen polymerase. The whole cluster is derived from a low-G+C-content organism. Comparative sequencing of an additional serogroup O:6,14 isolate (S. enterica serotype Carrau) revealed a highly homologous sequence, suggesting that O antigen factors O:24 and O:25 (additional O factors associated with serogroup O:6,14) are encoded outside the rfb gene cluster. We developed a serogroup O:6,14-specific PCR assay based on a region of the putative wzx (O antigen flippase) gene. This provides the basis for a sensitive and specific test for the rapid identification of Salmonella serogroup O:6,14.

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