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J Biol Chem. 2012 Mar 9;287(11):8515-30. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.324012. Epub 2012 Jan 13.

O-antigen and core carbohydrate of Vibrio fischeri lipopolysaccharide: composition and analysis of their role in Euprymna scolopes light organ colonization.

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Buck Institute for Research on Aging, Novato, California 94945, USA.


Vibrio fischeri exists in a symbiotic relationship with the Hawaiian bobtail squid, Euprymna scolopes, where the squid provides a home for the bacteria, and the bacteria in turn provide camouflage that helps protect the squid from night-time predators. Like other gram-negative organisms, V. fischeri expresses lipopolysaccharide (LPS) on its cell surface. The structure of the O-antigen and the core components of the LPS and their possible role in colonization of the squid have not previously been determined. In these studies, an O-antigen ligase mutant, waaL, was utilized to determine the structures of these LPS components and their roles in colonization of the squid. WaaL ligates the O-antigen to the core of the LPS; thus, LPS from waaL mutants lacks O-antigen. Our results show that the V. fischeri waaL mutant has a motility defect, is significantly delayed in colonization, and is unable to compete with the wild-type strain in co-colonization assays. Comparative analyses of the LPS from the wild-type and waaL strains showed that the V. fischeri LPS has a single O-antigen repeat composed of yersiniose, 8-epi-legionaminic acid, and N-acetylfucosamine. In addition, the LPS from the waaL strain showed that the core structure consists of L-glycero-D-manno-heptose, D-glycero-D-manno-heptose, glucose, 3-deoxy-D-manno-octulosonic acid, N-acetylgalactosamine, 8-epi-legionaminic acid, phosphate, and phosphoethanolamine. These studies indicate that the unusual V. fischeri O-antigen sugars play a role in the early phases of bacterial colonization of the squid.

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