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Immunobiology. 1993 Apr;187(3-5):382-402.

Lipo-oligosaccharides (LOS) of mucosal pathogens: molecular mimicry and host-modification of LOS.

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Division of Infectious Diseases, San Francisco General Hospital, University of California.


Immunochemical studies of the lipo-oligosaccharides (LOS) of the Gram-negative bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Neisseria meningitidis have revealed some interesting structural characteristics of these LOS that might relate to their roles during pathogenesis. The carbohydrate moieties of the LOS of pathogenic Neisseria mimic carbohydrates present in glycosphingolipids of human cells. Firstly, an LOS component present among a number of Neisseria species is antigenically and/or chemically identical to lactoneoseries glycosphingolipids present in human cells. The lactoneoseries LOS becomes sialylated on Neisseria gonorrhoeae when they are grown in the presence of cytidine 5'-monophospho-N-acetyl-neuraminic acid (CMP-NANA), the nucleotide sugar for sialic acid. Examination of gonococci present in exudates from males with natural infection indicates that sialylation also occurs in vivo. The mechanism for this process apparently involves a bacterial sialyltransferase scavenging available host CMP-NANA ("host-modification" of LOS) and transferring the sialic acid to the lactoneoserieslike LOS. Strains of N. meningitidis and Haemophilus influenzae also express similarly sialylated LOS suggesting that this is a common mechanism of pathogenesis among these bacteria. Additional examples of LOS that mimic other glycosphingolipid series have been identified also and the fact that multiple series can be expressed in a single population of gonococci suggests that a diverse set of LOS can be presented to the host during infection. It is possible that this diverse set of LOS serve different functions for the bacteria in various hosts and/or environments during infection.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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