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Mol Microbiol. 1997 Oct;26(1):197-208.

Capsular polysaccharide synthesis in Streptococcus pneumoniae serotype 14: molecular analysis of the complete cps locus and identification of genes encoding glycosyltransferases required for the biosynthesis of the tetrasaccharide subunit.

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Department of Bacteriology, Institute of Infectious Diseases and Immunology, School of Veterinary Medicine, Universiteit Utrecht, The Netherlands.


We have reported previously on seven genes (cps14B-H) of Streptococcus pneumoniae serotype 14, which are part of the type 14 capsular polysaccharide synthesis (cps14) locus. This study describes the cloning and sequencing of the remaining part of the cps14 locus. The entire cps14 gene cluster consists of 12 open reading genes (cps14A to cps14L), which appear to be arranged as a single transcriptional unit. The flanking regions of the cps14 locus contain vestiges of insertion elements. Moreover, a 115-bp-long repeated DNA element, which is also present in several other intergenic regions on the pneumococcal chromosome, has been identified upstream of cps14A. All 12 open reading frames (ORFs) were inactivated by the insertion of a tetracycline resistance cassette. The cps14A to cps14J and cps14L mutants were unencapsulated, whereas only a limited amount of capsular polysaccharide was expressed by a cps14K insertion mutant. Comparison with DNA and protein sequences available in databases allowed us to predict functions for four out of the five new cps14 gene products. The biosynthetic function of Cps14I was determined experimentally by analysis of intermediates in the synthesis of the type 14 tetrasaccharide subunit, catalysed by membrane preparations of Escherichia coli expressing pneumococcal glycosyltransferases. The cps14I gene encodes the beta-1,3-N-acetylglucosaminyltransferase activity necessary for the addition of the third sugar in the synthesis of the type 14 repeating unit. The activity encoded by cps14J was established using a synthetic glycosyltransferase acceptor: cps14J encodes a beta-1,4-galactosyltransferase, which requires beta-linked GlcNAc as an acceptor. Thus, Cps14J is responsible for the addition of the last (fourth) sugar in the synthesis of the type 14 subunit.

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