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Infect Immun. 2004 Sep;72(9):5340-8.

Novel modification of lipid A of Francisella tularensis.

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Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, University of California, San Francisco, California, USA.


We have investigated the lipid A of Francisella tularensis subsp. holarctica strain 1547-57, a type B strain, by using matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time-of-flight mass spectrometry, nanoelectrospray quadrupole ion-trap mass spectrometry, and chemical methods. In accordance with the previously published structures of the lipid A from F. tularensis live vaccine strain (LVS) (ATCC 29684) (E. Vinogradov et al., Eur. J. Biochem. 269:6112-6118, 2002), all of the major lipid A forms from strain 1547-57 were tetraacylated. As in the LVS strain, the major fatty acids detected in the F. tularensis 1547-57 lipid A sample included 3-hydroxyoctadecanoic acid, 3-hydroxyhexadecanoic acid, hexadecanoic acid, and tetradecanoic acid. However, several of the lipid A components present in strain 1547-57 were of higher molecular weight than the previously published structures. A major component with an M(r) of 1,666 was found to contain three C(18:0)(3-OH) fatty acids, one C(16:0) fatty acid, one phosphate group, and one 161-Da moiety. This 161-Da moiety could be removed from the lipid A by treatment with aqueous hydrofluoric acid and was identified as galactosamine following peracetylation and analysis by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Detailed investigations of the M(r)-1,666 species by ion-trap mass spectrometry with multiple stages of fragmentation suggested that the galactosamine-1-phosphate was linked to the reducing terminus of the lipid A. Similar to the modification of lipid A with arabinosamine, lipopolysaccharide species from F. tularensis containing a phosphate-linked galactosamine could potentially influence its intracellular survival by conferring resistance to antimicrobial peptides.

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