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J Bacteriol. 2010 Sep;192(18):4618-26. doi: 10.1128/JB.00104-10. Epub 2010 Jul 16.

Characterization of the structure and biological functions of a capsular polysaccharide produced by Staphylococcus saprophyticus.

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Channing Laboratory, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


Staphylococcus saprophyticus is a common cause of uncomplicated urinary tract infections in women. S. saprophyticus strain ATCC 15305 carries two staphylococcal cassette chromosome genetic elements, SCC(15305RM) and SCC(15305cap). The SCC(15305cap) element carries 13 open reading frames (ORFs) involved in capsular polysaccharide (CP) biosynthesis, and its G+C content (26.7%) is lower than the average G+C content (33.2%) for the whole genome. S. saprophyticus strain ATCC 15305 capD, capL, and capK (capD(Ssp), capL(Ssp), and capK(Ssp)) are homologous to genes encoding UDP-FucNAc biosynthesis, and gtaB and capI(Ssp) show homology to genes involved in UDP-glucuronic acid synthesis. S. saprophyticus ATCC 15305 CP, visualized by immunoelectron microscopy, was extracted and purified using anionic-exchange and size exclusion chromatography. Analysis of the purified CP by (1)H and (13)C nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and gas-liquid chromatography revealed two types of branched tetrasaccharide repeating units composed of the following: -4)-beta-Glc-(1-3)-Sug-(1-4)-beta-GlcA-(1- | beta-GlcNAc-(1-2) Sug represents two stereoisomers of 2-acetamido-2,6-dideoxy-hexos-4-ulose residues, one of which has an arabino configuration. The encapsulated ATCC 15305 strain was resistant to complement-mediated opsonophagocytic killing by human neutrophils, whereas the acapsular mutant C1 was susceptible. None of 14 clinical isolates reacted with antibodies to the ATCC 15305 CP. However, 11 of the 14 S. saprophyticus isolates were phenotypically encapsulated based on their resistance to complement-mediated opsonophagocytic killing and their failure to hemagglutinate when cultivated aerobically. Ten of the 14 clinical strains carried homologues of the conserved staphylococcal capD gene or the S. saprophyticus gtaB gene, or both. Our results suggest that some strains of S. saprophyticus are encapsulated and that more than one capsular serotype exists.

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