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Mol Plant Microbe Interact. 2003 Dec;16(12):1085-93.

Three genes encoding for putative methyl- and acetyltransferases map adjacent to the wzm and wzt genes and are essential for O-antigen biosynthesis in Rhizobium etli CE3.


The elucidation of the structure of the O-antigen of Rhizobium etli CE3 predicts that the R. etli CE3 genome must contain genes encoding acetyl- and methyltransferases to confer the corresponding modifications to the O-antigen. We identified three open reading frames (ORFs) upstream of wzm, encoding the membrane component of the O-antigen transporter and located in the lps alpha-region of R. etli CE3. The ORFs encode two putative acetyltransferases with similarity to the CysE-LacA-LpxA-NodL family of acetyltransferases and one putative methyltransferase with sequence motifs common to a wide range of S-adenosyl-L-methionine-dependent methyltransferases. Mutational analysis of the ORFs encoding the putative acetyltransferases and methyltransferase revealed that the acetyl and methyl decorations mediated by these specific enzymes are essential for O-antigen synthesis. Composition analysis and high performance anion exchange chromatography analysis of the lipopolysaccharides (LPSs) of the mutants show that all of these LPSs contain an intact core region and lack the O-antigen polysaccharide. The possible role of these transferases in the decoration of the O-antigen of R. etli is discussed.

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