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J Endotoxin Res. 2005;11(3):133-44.

Lipopolysaccharide inner core oligosaccharide structure and outer membrane stability in human pathogens belonging to the Enterobacteriaceae.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada.


In the Enterobacteriaceae, the outer membrane is primarily comprised of lipopolysaccharides. The lipopolysaccharide molecule is important in mediating interactions between the bacterium and its environment and those regions of the molecule extending further away from the cell surface show a higher amount of structural diversity. The hydrophobic lipid A is highly conserved, due to its important role in the structural integrity of the outer membrane. Attached to the lipid A region is the core oligosaccharide. The inner core oligosaccharide (lipid A proximal) backbone is also well conserved. However, non-stoichiometric substitutions of the basic inner core structure lead to structural variation and microheterogeneity. These include the addition of negatively charged groups (phosphate or galacturonic acid), ethanolamine derivatives, and glycose residues (Kdo, rhamnose, galactose, glucosamine, N-acetylglucosamine, heptose, Ko). The genetics and biosynthesis of these substitutions is beginning to be elucidated. Modification of heptose residues with negatively charged molecules (such as phosphate in Escherichia coli and Salmonella and galacturonic acid in Klebsiella pneumoniae) has been shown to be involved in maintaining membrane stability. However, the biological role(s) of the remaining substitutions is unknown.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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