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Glycoconj J. 2013 Aug;30(6):561-76. doi: 10.1007/s10719-012-9455-5. Epub 2012 Oct 24.

Haemophilus parainfluenzae has a limited core lipopolysaccharide repertoire with no phase variation.

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Department of Paediatrics, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.


Cell surface lipopolysaccharide (LPS) is a well characterized virulence determinant for the human pathogen Haemophilus influenzae, so an investigation of LPS in the less pathogenic Haemophilus parainfluenzae could yield important insights. Using a panel of 18 commensal H. parainfluenzae isolates we demonstrate that the set of genes for inner core LPS biosynthesis largely resembles that of H. influenzae, with an additional heptosyltransferase I gene similar to waaC from Pasteurella multocida. Inner core LPS structure is therefore likely to be largely conserved across the two Haemophilus species. Outer core LPS biosynthetic genes are much less prevalent in H. parainfluenzae, although homologues of the H. influenzae LPS genes lpsB, non-phase variable lic2A and lgtC, and losA1, losB1 and lic2C are found in certain isolates. Immunoblotting using antibodies directed against selected LPS epitopes was consistent with these data. We found no evidence for tetranucleotide repeat-mediated phase variation in H. parainfluenzae. Phosphocholine, a phase variable H. influenzae LPS epitope that has been implicated in disease, was absent in H. parainfluenzae LPS as were the respective (lic1) biosynthetic genes. The introduction of the lic1 genes into H. parainfluenzae led to the phase variable incorporation of phosphocholine into its LPS. Differences in LPS structure between Haemophilus species could affect interactions at the bacterial-host interface and therefore the pathogenic potential of these bacteria.

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