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Mol Microbiol. 1993 May;8(3):483-93.

Phospholipid substitution of capsular polysaccharides and mechanisms of capsule formation in Neisseria meningitidis.

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Institut für Medizinische Mikrobiologie, Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, Germany.


Within the capsule gene complex (cps) of Neisseria meningitidis two functional regions B and C are involved in surface translocation of the cytoplasmically synthesized capsular polysaccharide, which is a homopolymer of alpha-2,8 polyneuraminic acid. The region-C gene products share characteristics with transporter proteins of the ABC (ATP-binding cassette) superfamily of active transporters. For analysis of the role of region B in surface translocation of the capsular polysaccharide we purified the polysaccharides of region B- and region C-defective Escherichia coli clones by affinity chromatography. The molecular weights of the polysaccharides were determined by gel filtration and the polysaccharides were analysed for phospholipid substitution by polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and immunoblotting. The results indicate that the full-size capsular polysaccharide with a phospholipid anchor is synthesized intracellularly and that lipid modification is a strong requirement for translocation of the polysaccharide to the cell surface. Proteins encoded by region B are involved in phospholipid substitution of the capsular polysaccharide. Nucleotide sequence analysis of region B revealed two open reading frames, which encode proteins with molecular masses of 45.1 and 48.7 kDa.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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