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Mol Microbiol. 1994 Mar;11(5):885-96.

Contribution of genes from the capsule gene complex (cps) to lipooligosaccharide biosynthesis and serum resistance in Neisseria meningitidis.

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Institut für Medizinische Mikrobiologie, Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, Germany.


Within the capsule gene complex (cps) of Neisseria meningitidis B a 5.5 kb DNA fragment encodes proteins with strong homologies to enzymes of the lipopolysaccharide biosynthetic pathway of Salmonella typhimurium and Escherichia coli, GalE, RfbB, RfbC and RfbD. A meningococcal galE mutant expressed a truncated lipooligosaccharide (LOS), which terminated at the glucose residue between inner and outer core, and a second galE gene present outside the cps cluster was found to be transcriptionally and functionally inactive and, thus, unable to complement this defect. Because of the defect in the outer core, the LOS of the galE-defective meningococcal mutant was not sialylated. In contrast, carbohydrate analysis of the LOS of an rfb-defective meningococcal mutant revealed no difference from the LOS of the wild-type strain, suggesting that the rfb genes are inactive. This was supported by Northern blot analysis, which showed that expression of the rfb gene products was transcriptionally regulated. The inability of the meningococcal galE mutant, which cannot sialylate the LOS, allowed us to investigate the significance of LOS sialylation in relation to the presence of the polysialic acid capsule. Sialylated LOS, but not the polysialic acid capsule, is necessary to confer complete serum resistance on the meningococcus by inhibition of the alternative complement pathway.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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