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J Bacteriol. 2013 Sep;195(18):4264-73. doi: 10.1128/JB.00471-13. Epub 2013 Jul 19.

Gene content and diversity of the loci encoding biosynthesis of capsular polysaccharides of the 15 serovar reference strains of Haemophilus parasuis.

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Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom.


Haemophilus parasuis is the causative agent of Glässer's disease, a systemic disease of pigs, and is also associated with pneumonia. H. parasuis can be classified into 15 different serovars. Here we report, from the 15 serotyping reference strains, the DNA sequences of the loci containing genes for the biosynthesis of the group 1 capsular polysaccharides, which are potential virulence factors of this bacterium. We contend that these loci contain genes for polysaccharide capsule structures, and not a lipopolysaccharide O antigen, supported by the fact that they contain genes such as wza, wzb, and wzc, which are associated with the export of polysaccharide capsules in the current capsule classification system. A conserved region at the 3' end of the locus, containing the wza, ptp, wzs, and iscR genes, is consistent with the characteristic export region 1 of the model group 1 capsule locus. A potential serovar-specific region (region 2) has been found by comparing the predicted coding sequences (CDSs) in all 15 loci for synteny and homology. The region is unique to each reference strain with the exception of those in serovars 5 and 12, which are identical in terms of gene content. The identification and characterization of this locus among the 15 serovars is the first step in understanding the genetic, molecular, and structural bases of serovar specificity in this poorly studied but important pathogen and opens up the possibility of developing an improved molecular serotyping system, which would greatly assist diagnosis and control of Glässer's disease.

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