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Infect Immun. 2011 Feb;79(2):961-9. doi: 10.1128/IAI.01023-10. Epub 2010 Nov 29.

Burkholderia thailandensis oacA mutants facilitate the expression of Burkholderia mallei-like O polysaccharides.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of South Alabama, 5851 USA Drive North, Mobile, AL 36688, USA.


Previous studies have shown that the O polysaccharides (OPS) expressed by Burkholderia mallei are similar to those produced by Burkholderia thailandensis except that they lack the 4-O-acetyl modifications on their 6-deoxy-α-l-talopyranosyl residues. In the present study, we describe the identification and characterization of an open reading frame, designated oacA, expressed by B. thailandensis that accounts for this phenomenon. Utilizing the B. thailandensis and B. mallei lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-specific monoclonal antibodies Pp-PS-W and 3D11, Western immunoblot analyses demonstrated that the LPS antigens expressed by the oacA mutant, B. thailandensis ZT0715, were antigenically similar to those produced by B. mallei ATCC 23344. In addition, immunoblot analyses demonstrated that when B. mallei ATCC 23344 was complemented in trans with oacA, it synthesized B. thailandensis-like LPS antigens. To elucidate the structure of the OPS moieties expressed by ZT0715, purified samples were analyzed via nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. As predicted, these studies demonstrated that the loss of OacA activity influenced the O acetylation phenotype of the OPS moieties. Unexpectedly, however, the results indicated that the O methylation status of the OPS antigens was also affected by the loss of OacA activity. Nonetheless, it was revealed that the LPS moieties expressed by the oacA mutant reacted strongly with the B. mallei LPS-specific protective monoclonal antibody 9C1-2. Based on these findings, it appears that OacA is required for the 4-O acetylation and 2-O methylation of B. thailandensis OPS antigens and that ZT0715 may provide a safe and cost-effective source of B. mallei-like OPS to facilitate the synthesis of glanders subunit vaccine candidates.

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