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Microbiology. 1995 Dec;141 ( Pt 12):3039-47.

Role of the viaB locus in synthesis, transport and expression of Salmonella typhi Vi antigen.

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Institut Pasteur, Unité des Entérobacteries, Unité INSERM 389, Paris, France.


The Vi antigen is a capsular polysaccharide expressed by Salmonella typhi, the agent of human typhoid fever. Expression of this antigen is controlled by the viaA and viaB chromosomal loci. The viaB locus is composed of 11 genes designated tviA-tviE (typhi Vi), vexA-vexE (Vi antigen export) and ORF11. We constructed S. typhi Ty2 strains carrying non-polar mutations in ten genes located at the viaB locus and examined the individual contribution of each gene to Vi phenotype. Phenotypes of the mutants and complementation experiments suggested that synthesis of Vi antigen monomer was catalysed by the TviB and TviC polypeptides. Subsequent polymerization of the polysaccharide might be catalysed by the TviE protein, but required functional TviD product. Proteins encoded by vexA, vexB and vexC directed transport of the polymer to the bacterial cell surface. Anchoring of the Vi antigen at the bacterial cell surface was dependent of the VexE protein. The TviA protein was not essential for Vi polymer synthesis. However, disruption of the tviA gene on S. typhi Ty2 chromosome strongly decreased expression of Vi antigen. This defect was fully complemented by providing tviA in trans on a recombinant plasmid. By using lacZ transcriptional fusions, it was shown that the TviA product positively regulated co-transcription of the tviA and tviB genes from a promoter located upstream of tviA. Moreover, we showed that a tviAB-lacZ fusion was not expressed in a viaA (rcsB) mutant of S. typhi.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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