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Molecular Genetics, Biochemistry and Biological Role of Yersinia Lipopolysaccharide

  • Mikael Skurnik
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 529)

Summary

Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) is the major component of the outer leaflet of the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria. The LPS molecule is composed of two biosynthetic entities: the lipid A — core and the O-polysaccharide (O-antigen). Most biological effects of LPS are due to the lipid A part, however, there is an increasing body of evidence also with Yersinia indicating that O-antigen plays an important role in effective colonization of host tissues, resistance to complement-mediated killing and in the resistance to cationic antimicrobial peptides that are key elements of the innate immune system.

The biosynthesis of O-antigen requires numerous enzymatic activities and includes the biosynthesis of individual NDP-activated precursor sugars in the cytoplasm, linkage and sugar-specific transferases, O-unit flippase, O-antigen polymerase and O-chain length determinant. Based on this enzymatic mode of O-antigen biosynthesis LPS isolated from bacteria is a heterologous population of molecules; some do not carry any O-antigen while others that do have variation in the O-antigen chain lengths.

The genes required for the O-antigen biosynthesis are located in O-antigen gene clusters that in genus Yersinia is located between the hemH and gsk genes.

Temperature regulates the O-antigen expression in Y. enterocolitica and Y. pseudotuberculosis; bacteria grown at room temperature (RT, 22–25°C) produce in abundance O-antigen while only trace amounts are present in bacteria grown at 37°C. Even though the amount of O-antigen is known to fluctuate under different growth conditions in many bacteria very little detailed information is available on the control of the O-antigen biosynthetic machinery.

Keywords

Gene Cluster Outer Core Yersinia Enterocolitica Cationic Antimicrobial Peptide Enterobacterial Common Antigen 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mikael Skurnik
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Bacteriology and Immunology, the Haartman InstituteUniversity of HelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.Department of Medical Biochemistry and Molecular BiologyUniversity of TurkuFinland

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