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Mol Microbiol. 1993 May;8(5):843-55.

Identification of cpsD, a gene essential for type III capsule expression in group B streptococci.

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Division of Infectious Disease, Children's Hospital and Medical Center, Seattle, Washington 98105.


We showed previously that a mutant strain of group B Streptococcus (GBS) defective in capsule production was avirulent. This study describes the derivation of an unencapsulated mutant from a highly encapsulated wild-type strain of type III GBS, COH1, by transposon mutagenesis with Tn916 delta E. The mutant, COH1-13, was sensitive to phagocytic killing by human leukocytes in vitro and was relatively avirulent in a neonatal rat sepsis model compared with the wild-type strain. No capsular polysaccharide was evident in the cytoplasm or on the cell surface of the mutant strain. The Tn916 delta E insertion site in COH1-13 was mapped to the same chromosomal location as the Tn916 insertion site in the unencapsulated type III mutant COH31-15 reported previously. Nucleotide sequencing of DNA flanking the insertion site in COH1-13 revealed an open reading frame, designated cpsD, with significant homology to the rfbP gene of Salmonella typhimurium. RfbP encodes a galactosyl transferase enzyme that catalyses the transfer of galactose to undecaprenol phosphate, the initial step in O-polysaccharide synthesis. A particulate fraction of a lysate of wild-type strain GBS COH1 mediated the transfer of galactose from UDP-galactose to an endogenous acceptor. The galactose-acceptor complex partitioned into organic solvents, suggesting it is lipid in nature or membrane-associated. Galactosyl transferase activity was significantly reduced in the unencapsulated mutant strain COH1-13. These results, together with the similarity in deduced amino acid sequence between cpsD and rfbP suggest that cpsD encodes a galactosyl transferase essential for assembly of the GBS type III capsular polysaccharide.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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