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Microbiology. 2009 Dec;155(Pt 12):4170-83. doi: 10.1099/mic.0.029017-0. Epub 2009 Sep 10.

Genetic diversity of capsular polysaccharide biosynthesis in Klebsiella pneumoniae clinical isolates.

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Department of Bioscience Technology, Chang Jung Christian University, Tainan County, Taiwan, ROC.


Klebsiella pneumoniae is an enteric pathogen causing community-acquired and hospital-acquired infections in humans. Epidemiological studies have revealed significant diversity in capsular polysaccharide (CPS) type and clinical manifestation of K. pneumoniae infection in different geographical areas of the world. We have sequenced the capsular polysaccharide synthesis (cps) region of seven clinical isolates and compared the sequences with the publicly available cps sequence data of five strains: NTUH-K2044 (K1 serotype), Chedid (K2 serotype), MGH78578 (K52 serotype), A1142 (K57 serotype) and A1517. Among all strains, six genes at the 5' end of the cps clusters that encode proteins for CPS transportation and processing at the bacterial surface are highly similar to each other. The central region of the cps gene clusters, which encodes proteins for polymerization and assembly of the CPS subunits, is highly divergent. Based on the collected sequence, we found that either the wbaP gene or the wcaJ gene exists in a given K. pneumoniae strain, suggesting that there is a major difference in the CPS biosynthesis pathway and that the K. pneumoniae strains can be classified into at least two distinct groups. All isolates contain gnd, encoding gluconate-6-phosphate dehydrogenase, at the 3' end of the cps gene clusters. The rmlBADC genes were found in CPS K9-positive, K14-positive and K52-positive strains, while manC and manB were found in K1, K2, K5, K14, K62 and two undefined strains. Our data indicate that, while overall genomic organization is similar between different pathogenic K. pneumoniae strains, the genetic variation of the sugar moiety and polysaccharide linkage generate the diversity in CPS molecules that could help evade host immune attack.

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