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J Bacteriol. 2011 Oct;193(19):5271-8. doi: 10.1128/JB.05034-11. Epub 2011 Jul 29.

Elucidation of structural and antigenic properties of pneumococcal serotype 11A, 11B, 11C, and 11F polysaccharide capsules.

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Department of Pathology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, USA.

Erratum in

  • J Bacteriol. 2013 Oct;195(19):4552.
  • J Bacteriol. 2012 Jan;194(1):206.


Despite the emerging impact of serogroup 11 serotypes in Streptococcus pneumoniae epidemiology, the structures of serogroup 11 capsule types have not been fully elucidated, particularly the locations of O-acetyl substitutions. Here, we report the complete structures of the serotype 11B, 11C, and 11F polysaccharides and a revision to the serotype 11A capsular polysaccharide using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). All structures shared a linear, tetrasaccharide backbone with a pendant phosphopolyalcohol. Three of four saccharides are conserved in all serotypes. The individual serotype capsules differed in the identity of one saccharide, the pendant phosphopolyalcohol, and the O-acetylation pattern. Though the assigned locations of O-acetate substitutions in this study differed from those of previous reports, our findings were corroborated with strong correlations to serology and genetics. We examined the binding of serotyping sera to serogroup 11 polysaccharides by using flow cytometry and an inhibition-type enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and found that de-O-acetylation of capsular polysaccharides by mild hydrolysis decreases its immunoreactivity, supporting the crucial role of O-acetylation in the antigenicity of these polysaccharides. Due to strong correlations between polysaccharide structures and capsule biosynthesis genes, we were able to assign target substrates for the O-acetyltransferases encoded by wcwC, wcwR, wcwT, and wcjE. We identified antigenic determinants for serogroup 11 serotyping sera and highlight the idea that conventional serotyping methods are not capable of recognizing all putative variants of S. pneumoniae serogroup 11.

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