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Eur J Biochem. 1991 May 8;197(3):707-16.

Molecular modelling of bacterial deep rough mutant lipopolysaccharide of Escherichia coli.

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Institut für Kristallographie, Freien Universität Berlin, Federal Republic of Germany.


Molecular modelling techniques have been applied to compute the conformation accessible to bacterial deep rough lipopolysaccharide of Escherichia coli (Re-LPS). Analyses of the results showed that the models typically exhibit a tilt of the diglucosamine backbone with respect to the membrane normal of 53 +/- 7 degrees while both the glucosamine ring planes are oriented approximately parallel to the membrane normal. Different models were found to show compact and elongated types of acyl chain arrangements, both producing anisotropic lateral dimensions of the models of 1.0-1.1 nm and 1.7-2.0 nm for the shorter and the longer side, respectively. The conformationally allowed range of the isolated dOclA(alpha-2-4)dOclA disaccharide (dOclA = 3-deoxy-D-mannooctulosonic acid) was found to be extremely limited. It appeared that the dOclA disaccharide (dOclA)2 is centred at the top of the Re-LPS molecule preferring two orientations stabilized by hydrogen bonds involving only one phosphate group of the lipid A moiety at a time. The effect of charges on the Re-LPS conformations has been studied in separate calculations. From these calculations it was obvious that charges have no significant effects on the conformations of the isolated lipid A and (dOclA)2 moieties. However, it was found that the orientation of (dOclA)2 with respect to the lipid A part is highly sensitive to charges, i.e. in the charged models the proximity of phosphate and carboxyl groups is prevented by strong electrostatic repulsion between these negatively charged groups. In order to rationalize the acyl chain packing of the models, a simple geometrical model which correlates the tilt of the diglucosamine backbone with the energically favoured close packing of the acyl chains is proposed. Furthermore, the possibility of a chelate-like complexation of divalent cations and its contribution to head group mobility is discussed.

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