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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2003 Dec 12;312(2):323-33.

Identification and physical organization of the gene cluster involved in the biosynthesis of Burkholderia cepacia complex exopolysaccharide.

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Biological Sciences Research Group, Centro de Engenharia Biológica e Química, Instituto Superior Técnico, Av. Rovisco Pais, 1049-001 Lisboa, Portugal.


Bacteria belonging to the Burkholderia cepacia complex (BCC) are important opportunistic pathogens in patients with cystic fibrosis (CF). Since approximately 80% of the CF isolates examined produce exopolysaccharide (EPS), it was hypothesized that this EPS may play a role in the colonization and persistence of these bacteria in the CF lung. The present study describes the identification and physical organization of the EPS biosynthetic gene cluster. This bce gene cluster was identified following the isolation of three EPS-defective mutants from the highly mucoid CF isolate IST408, belonging to BCC genomovar I, based on random plasposon insertion mutagenesis and comparison of the nucleotide sequence of the interrupted genes with the available genome of Burkholderia cenocepacia J2315. This 16.2 kb cluster includes 12 genes and is located on chromosome 2. Database searches for homologous proteins and secondary structure analysis for the deduced Bce amino acid sequences revealed genes predicted to encode enzymes required for the formation of nucleotide sugar precursors, glycosyltransferases involved in the repeat-unit assembly, and other proteins involved in polymerization and export of bacterial surface polysaccharides.

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