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Gene. 1991 Oct 30;107(1):43-52.

The oac gene encoding a lipopolysaccharide O-antigen acetylase maps adjacent to the integrase-encoding gene on the genome of Shigella flexneri bacteriophage Sf6.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Adelaide, Australia.


Lysogens of Shigella flexneri harbouring the temperate bacteriophage, Sf6, have been previously shown to undergo a serotype conversion due to O-acetylation of the O-antigen of the lipopolysaccharide. A partial physical map of the phage genome has been constructed. Analysis of the phage DNA suggests that the phage packages by a headful mechanism and that the mature DNA molecules are terminally redundant. Cloning of the PstI fragments of Sf6 enabled the region encoding the serotype conversion to be localized, showing that this was clearly phage-encoded. The gene was further localized by mutagenesis with Tn5 and the nucleotide sequence of the entire 2693-bp PstI fragment was determined. Two major open reading frames (ORFs) were found capable of encoding proteins of 44.1 and 37.2 kDa. The latter corresponds to the O-antigen acetylase and its gene has been designated oac. The oac gene is capable of converting Sh. flexneri serotypes X, Y, 1a and 4a to 3a, 3b, 1b and 4b, respectively. The Oac protein bears a high degree of homology to the NodX protein of Rhizobium leguminosarum suggesting that it, too, may be a sugar acetylase. The second ORF immediately upstream from oac corresponds to the bacteriophage Sf6 integrase responsible for chromosomal integration and is highly homologous to the integrases of Escherichia coli bacteriophages P4 and phi 80, but less closely related to those of P1, P2, P22, 186 and lambda.

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