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J Bacteriol. 1994 Apr;176(8):2362-73.

Nucleotide sequence of the rhamnose biosynthetic operon of Shigella flexneri 2a and role of lipopolysaccharide in virulence.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia.


N1308, a chromosomal Tn5 mutant of Shigella flexneri 2a, was described previously as a lipopolysaccharide (LPS) mutant with a short O side chain. N1308 formed foci, but not plaques, in LLC-MK2 cell monolayers and was negative in the Serény test. In this study, the wild-type locus inactivated in N1308 was cloned and further defined by means of complementation analysis. A 4.3-kb BstEII-XhoI fragment of S. flexneri 2a YSH6200 DNA was sufficient to restore both normal LPS and virulence phenotype to the mutant. DNA sequencing of this region revealed four genes, rfbA, rfbB, rfbC, and rfbD, encoding the enzymes required for the biosynthesis of activated rhamnose. The four genes were expressed in Escherichia coli, and the expected protein products were visualized by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. N1308 was shown to have normal levels of surface IpaC and IpaD, while a Western blot (immunoblot) of whole-cell lysates or outer membrane fractions indicated an elevated level of appropriately localized VirG. An in vitro invasion assay revealed that N1308 had normal primary invasive capacity and was able to multiply and move normally within the initial infected cell. However, it exhibited a significant reduction in its ability to spread from cell to cell in the monolayer. A double immunofluorescence assay revealed differences between LLC-MK2 cells infected with the wild-type YSH6000 and those infected with N1308. The wild-type bacteria elicited the formation of the characteristic F-actin tails, whereas N1308 failed to do so. However, N1308 was capable of inducing deposition of F-actin, which accumulated in a peribacterial fashion with only slight, if any, unipolar accumulation of the cytoskeletal protein.

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