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1.  Phosphoethanolamine Decoration of Neisseria gonorrhoeae Lipid A Plays a Dual Immunostimulatory and Protective Role during Experimental Genital Tract Infection 
Infection and Immunity  2014;82(6):2170-2179.
The induction of an intense inflammatory response by Neisseria gonorrhoeae and the persistence of this pathogen in the presence of innate effectors is a fascinating aspect of gonorrhea. Phosphoethanolamine (PEA) decoration of lipid A increases gonococcal resistance to complement-mediated bacteriolysis and cationic antimicrobial peptides (CAMPs), and recently we reported that wild-type N. gonorrhoeae strain FA1090 has a survival advantage relative to a PEA transferase A (lptA) mutant in the human urethral-challenge and murine lower genital tract infection models. Here we tested the immunostimulatory role of this lipid A modification. Purified lipooligosaccharide (LOS) containing lipid A devoid of the PEA modification and an lptA mutant of strain FA19 induced significantly lower levels of NF-κB in human embryonic kidney Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) cells and murine embryonic fibroblasts than wild-type LOS of the parent strain. Moreover, vaginal proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines were not elevated in female mice infected with the isogenic lptA mutant, in contrast to mice infected with the wild-type and complemented lptA mutant bacteria. We also demonstrated that lptA mutant bacteria were more susceptible to human and murine cathelicidins due to increased binding by these peptides and that the differential induction of NF-κB by wild-type and unmodified lipid A was more pronounced in the presence of CAMPs. This work demonstrates that PEA decoration of lipid A plays both protective and immunostimulatory roles and that host-derived CAMPs may further reduce the capacity of PEA-deficient lipid A to interact with TLR4 during infection.
PMCID: PMC4019182  PMID: 24686069
2.  The Role of Oxidoreductases in Determining the Function of the Neisserial Lipid A Phosphoethanolamine Transferase Required for Resistance to Polymyxin 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e106513.
The decoration of the lipid A headgroups of the lipooligosaccharide (LOS) by the LOS phosphoethanolamine (PEA) transferase (LptA) in Neisseria spp. is central for resistance to polymyxin. The structure of the globular domain of LptA shows that the protein has five disulphide bonds, indicating that it is a potential substrate of the protein oxidation pathway in the bacterial periplasm. When neisserial LptA was expressed in Escherichia coli in the presence of the oxidoreductase, EcDsbA, polymyxin resistance increased 30-fold. LptA decorated one position of the E. coli lipid A headgroups with PEA. In the absence of the EcDsbA, LptA was degraded in E. coli. Neisseria spp. express three oxidoreductases, DsbA1, DsbA2 and DsbA3, each of which appear to donate disulphide bonds to different targets. Inactivation of each oxidoreductase in N. meningitidis enhanced sensitivity to polymyxin with combinatorial mutants displaying an additive increase in sensitivity to polymyxin, indicating that the oxidoreductases were required for multiple pathways leading to polymyxin resistance. Correlates were sought between polymyxin sensitivity, LptA stability or activity and the presence of each of the neisserial oxidoreductases. Only meningococcal mutants lacking DsbA3 had a measurable decrease in the amount of PEA decoration on lipid A headgroups implying that LptA stability was supported by the presence of DsbA3 but did not require DsbA1/2 even though these oxidoreductases could oxidise the protein. This is the first indication that DsbA3 acts as an oxidoreductase in vivo and that multiple oxidoreductases may be involved in oxidising the one target in N. meningitidis. In conclusion, LptA is stabilised by disulphide bonds within the protein. This effect was more pronounced when neisserial LptA was expressed in E. coli than in N. meningitidis and may reflect that other factors in the neisserial periplasm have a role in LptA stability.
PMCID: PMC4162559  PMID: 25215579
3.  The secondary cell wall polysaccharide of Bacillus anthracis provides the specific binding ligand for the C-terminal cell wall-binding domain of two phage endolysins, PlyL and PlyG 
Glycobiology  2013;23(7):820-832.
Endolysins are bacteriophage enzymes that lyse their bacterial host for phage progeny release. They commonly contain an N-terminal catalytic domain that hydrolyzes bacterial peptidoglycan (PG) and a C-terminal cell wall-binding domain (CBD) that confers enzyme localization to the PG substrate. Two endolysins, phage lysin L (PlyL) and phage lysin G (PlyG), are specific for Bacillus anthracis. To date, the cell wall ligands for their C-terminal CBD have not been identified. We recently described structures for a number of secondary cell wall polysaccharides (SCWPs) from B. anthracis and B. cereus strains. They are covalently bound to the PG and are comprised of a -ManNAc-GlcNAc-HexNAc- backbone with various galactosyl or glucosyl substitutions. Surface plasmon resonance (SPR) showed that the endolysins PlyL and PlyG bind to the SCWP from B. anthracis (SCWPBa) with high affinity (i.e. in the μM range with dissociation constants ranging from 0.81 × 10−6 to 7.51 × 10−6 M). In addition, the PlyL and PlyG SCWPBa binding sites reside with their C-terminal domains. The dissociation constants for the interactions of these endolysins and their derived C-terminal domains with the SCWPBa were in the range reported for other protein–carbohydrate interactions. Our findings show that the SCWPBa is the ligand that confers PlyL and PlyG lysin binding and localization to the PG. PlyL and PlyG also bound the SCWP from B. cereus G9241 with comparable affinities to SCWPBa. No detectable binding was found to the SCWPs from B. cereus ATCC (American Type Culture Collection) 10987 and ATCC 14579, thus demonstrating specificity of lysin binding to SCWPs.
PMCID: PMC3671773  PMID: 23493680
Bacillus anthracis; bacteriophage; endolysin; polysaccharide; secondary cell wall polymer
4.  Late acyltransferase genes lpxX and lpxL jointly contribute to the biological activities of Moraxella catarrhalis 
Journal of Medical Microbiology  2013;62(Pt 6):807-812.
Lipo-oligosaccharide (LOS) is a major surface component and virulence factor of the human respiratory pathogen Moraxella catarrhalis. Two late acyltransferase genes, lpxX and lpxL, have been identified involved in the incorporation of acyloxyacyl-linked secondary acyl chains into lipid A during M. catarrhalis LOS biosynthesis. In this study, a double mutant with a deletion of both the lpxX and lpxL genes in M. catarrhalis strain O35E was constructed and named O35ElpxXL. Structural analysis of lipid A showed that the O35ElpxXL mutant lacked two decanoic acids (10 : 0) and one dodecanoic (lauric) acid (12 : 0). In comparison with the O35E parental strain and the single mutants O35ElpxX and O35ElpxL, the double mutant O35ElpxXL displayed prominently decreased endotoxin content, reduced resistance to normal human serum and accelerated bacterial clearance at 0, 3 and 6 h after an aerosol challenge in a mouse model of bacterial pulmonary clearance. These results indicate that these two genes encoding late acyltransferases responsible for lipid A biosynthesis jointly contribute to the biological activities and pathogenicity of M. catarrhalis. The double mutant O35ElpxXL with dramatically reduced toxicity is proposed as a potential vaccine candidate against M. catarrhalis infections for further investigation.
PMCID: PMC3709554  PMID: 23475908
5.  Elucidation of a novel lipid A α-(1,1)-GalA transferase gene (rgtF) from Mesorhizobium loti: Heterologous expression of rgtF causes Rhizobium etli to synthesize lipid A with α-(1,1)-GalA 
Glycobiology  2013;23(5):546-558.
An unusual α-(1,1)-galacturonic acid (GalA) lipid A modification has been reported in the lipopolysaccharide of a number of interesting Gram-negative bacteria, including the nitrogen-fixing bacteria Azospirillum lipoferum, Mesorhizobium huakuii and M. loti, the stalk-forming bacterium Caulobacter crescentus and the hyperthermophilic bacterium Aquifex aeolicus. However, the α-(1,1)-GalA transferase (GalAT) gene, which we have named RgtF, was not identified. Species of the Rhizobium genera produce lipid A with α-(1,4′)-GalA but not α-(1,1)-GalA. The Rhizobium GalAT, RgtD, is the lipid A α-(1–4′)-GalAT which utilizes the lipid donor dodecaprenyl-phosphate GalA (Dod-P-GalA) for GalA transfer. An additional Rhizobium GalAT, RgtE, is required for the biosynthesis of Dod-P-GalA. We predicted candidate rgtF genes in bacterial species known to produce lipid A with α-(1,1)-GalA. In order to determine the predicted rgtF gene function, we cloned the M. loti rgtF gene into an expression plasmid and introduced that plasmid into Rhizobium etli strains that do not contain the rgtF gene nor produce lipid A α-(1,1)-GalA. Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry analysis combined with NMR studies revealed that the lipid As from these rgtF-complemented strains were modified with an additional α-(1,1)-GalA attached to the proximal glucosamine.
PMCID: PMC3608353  PMID: 23283001
bacterial membrane biosynthesis; lipid A biosynthesis; novel glycosyl transferase
6.  Lipid A’s Structure Mediates Neisseria gonorrhoeae Fitness during Experimental Infection of Mice and Men 
mBio  2013;4(6):e00892-13.
Phosphoethanolamine (PEA) on Neisseria gonorrhoeae lipid A influences gonococcal inflammatory signaling and susceptibility to innate host defenses in in vitro models. Here, we evaluated the role of PEA-decorated gonococcal lipid A in competitive infections in female mice and in male volunteers. We inoculated mice and men with mixtures of wild-type N. gonorrhoeae and an isogenic mutant that lacks the PEA transferase, LptA. LptA production conferred a marked survival advantage for wild-type gonococci in the murine female genital tract and in the human male urethra. Our studies translate results from test tube to animal model and into the human host and demonstrate the utility of the mouse model for studies of virulence factors of the human-specific pathogen N. gonorrhoeae that interact with non-host-restricted elements of innate immunity. These results validate the use of gonococcal LptA as a potential target for development of novel immunoprophylactic strategies or antimicrobial treatments.
IMPORTANCE Gonorrhea is one of the most common bacterial sexually transmitted infections, and increasing antibiotic resistance threatens the use of currently available antimicrobial therapies. In this work, encompassing in vitro studies and in vivo studies of animal and human models of experimental genital tract infection, we document the importance of lipid A’s structure, mediated by a single bacterial enzyme, LptA, in enhancing the fitness of Neisseria gonorrhoeae. The results of these studies suggest that novel agents targeting LptA may offer urgently needed prevention or treatment strategies for gonorrhea.
Gonorrhea is one of the most common bacterial sexually transmitted infections, and increasing antibiotic resistance threatens the use of currently available antimicrobial therapies. In this work, encompassing in vitro studies and in vivo studies of animal and human models of experimental genital tract infection, we document the importance of lipid A’s structure, mediated by a single bacterial enzyme, LptA, in enhancing the fitness of Neisseria gonorrhoeae. The results of these studies suggest that novel agents targeting LptA may offer urgently needed prevention or treatment strategies for gonorrhea.
PMCID: PMC3870242  PMID: 24255126
7.  The structure of the L9 immunotype lipooligosaccharide from Neisseria meningitidis NMA Z2491 
Carbohydrate research  2008;343(17):2971-2979.
The lipooligosaccharide (LOS) from the N. meningitidis prototype serogroup A strain NMA Z2491, an L9 immunotype LOS, was isolated and structurally characterized using glycosyl composition and linkage determination, mass spectrometry and both 1- and 2-D nuclear resonance spectroscopy. The results show that the L9 LOS has an identical structure to that of an L4 LOS structure with the exception that it does not contain a sialic acid residue linked to position 3 of the lactoneotetraose terminal galactosyl residue. Further, two oligosaccharides are present in the Z2491 LOS preparation, OS1 and OS2. They differ from one another only in that OS2 contains an added glycine moiety, presumably at O-7 on the inner core Hep II residue. The structures of these oligosaccharides are as follows: Where R = H or Gly.
PMCID: PMC2784147  PMID: 18804756
Neisseria meningitidis; NMA; L9 Immunotype; Lipooligosaccharide; LOS; Structure; Phosphoethanolamine
8.  Identification of the Mutation Responsible for the Temperature-Sensitive Lipopolysaccharide O-Antigen Defect in the Pseudomonas aeruginosa Cystic Fibrosis Isolate 2192 
Journal of Bacteriology  2013;195(7):1504-1514.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa in the lungs of cystic fibrosis (CF) patients is characterized by a series of genotypic and phenotypic changes that reflect the transition from acute to chronic infection. These include the overproduction of the exopolysaccharide alginate and the loss of complete lipopolysaccharide (LPS). LPS is a major component of the Gram-negative outer membrane and is composed of lipid A, core oligosaccharide, and O antigen. In this report, we show that the LPS defect of the P. aeruginosa chronic infection isolate 2192 is temperature sensitive. When grown at 25°C, 2192 expresses serotype O1 LPS with a moderate chain length and in reduced amounts relative to those of a wild-type serotype O1 laboratory strain (stO1). In contrast, 2192 expresses no LPS O antigen when grown at 37°C. This is the first time that a temperature-sensitive defect in O-antigen production has been reported. Using complementation analyses with a constructed wbpM deletion mutant of stO1, we demonstrate that the temperature-sensitive O-antigen production defect in 2192 is due to a mutation in wbpM, which encodes a UDP-4,6-GlcNAc dehydratase involved in O-antigen synthesis. The mutation, a deletion of a single amino acid (V636) from the extreme C terminus of WbpM, renders the protein less stable than its wild-type counterpart. This residue of WbpM, which is critical for stability and function, is located outside of the recognized domains of the protein and may provide insight into the structure-function relationship of this enzyme, which is found in all 20 serotypes of P. aeruginosa. We also identify a promoter of wbpM, map a transcriptional start site of wbpM, and show that mucoidy plays a role in the loss of expression of high-molecular-weight LPS in this CF isolate.
PMCID: PMC3624535  PMID: 23354750
9.  Characterization of the lipopolysaccharide from a wbjE mutant of the serogroup O11 Pseudomonas aeruginosa strain, PA103 
Carbohydrate research  2007;343(2):238-248.
The lipopolyaccharide (LPS) of a wbjE mutant of Pseudomonas aeruginosa PA103, a serogroup O11 strain consists of both high and low molecular weight (HMW and LMW) LPSs. The HMW LPS consisted exclusively of rhamnan A-band LPS however no B-band LPS was detected in the wbjE mutant. Interestingly, the LMW LPS from the wbjE mutant showed that it contained a variety of oligosaccharides, each with two or three phosphate groups present as mono- or pyrophosphates.
These oligosaccharides consisted of the complete core octasaccharide,
a pentasaccharide,
and a tetrasaccharide,
The GalN residue was present as an N-acetylated residue in all of these oligosaccharides except the tetrasaccharide in which it is present as an N-alanylated residue. None of these oligosaccharides contained either a D- or L-FucpNAc residue. These results are discussed with regard to the role of WbjE in the biosynthesis of P. aeruginosa PA103 B-band LPS.
PMCID: PMC2243183  PMID: 18039536
Pseudomonas aeruginosa; Lipopolysaccharide; Inner core; wbjE; Biosynthesis
10.  Localization and structural analysis of a conserved pyruvylated epitope in Bacillus anthracis secondary cell wall polysaccharides and characterization of the galactose-deficient wall polysaccharide from avirulent B. anthracis CDC 684 
Glycobiology  2012;22(8):1103-1117.
Bacillus anthracis CDC 684 is a naturally occurring, avirulent variant and close relative of the highly pathogenic B. anthracis Vollum. Bacillus anthracis CDC 684 contains both virulence plasmids, pXO1 and pXO2, yet is non-pathogenic in animal models, prompting closer scrutiny of the molecular basis of attenuation. We structurally characterized the secondary cell wall polysaccharide (SCWP) of B. anthracis CDC 684 (Ba684) using chemical and NMR spectroscopy analysis. The SCWP consists of a HexNAc trisaccharide backbone having identical structure as that of B. anthracis Pasteur, Sterne and Ames, →4)-β-d-ManpNAc-(1 → 4)-β-d-GlcpNAc-(1 → 6)-α-d-GlcpNAc-(1→. Remarkably, although the backbone is fully polymerized, the SCWP is the devoid of all galactosyl side residues, a feature which normally comprises 50% of the glycosyl residues on the highly galactosylated SCWPs from pathogenic strains. This observation highlights the role of defective wall assembly in virulence and indicates that polymerization occurs independently of galactose side residue attachment. Of particular interest, the polymerized Ba684 backbone retains the substoichiometric pyruvate acetal, O-acetate and amino group modifications found on SCWPs from normal B. anthracis strains, and immunofluorescence analysis confirms that SCWP expression coincides with the ability to bind the surface layer homology (SLH) domain containing S-layer protein extractable antigen-1. Pyruvate was previously demonstrated as part of a conserved epitope, mediating SLH-domain protein attachment to the underlying peptidoglycan layer. We find that a single repeating unit, located at the distal (non-reducing) end of the Ba684 SCWP, is structurally modified and that this modification is present in identical manner in the SCWPs of normal B. anthracis strains. These polysaccharides terminate in the sequence: (S)-4,6-O-(1-carboxyethylidene)-β-d-ManpNAc-(1 → 4)-[3-O-acetyl]-β-d-GlcpNAc-(1 → 6)-α-d-GlcpNH2-(1→.
PMCID: PMC3382348  PMID: 22556058
Bacillus anthracis; cell wall; polysaccharide; pyruvylation; structure
11.  Secondary cell wall polysaccharides from Bacillus cereus strains G9241, 03BB87 and 03BB102 causing fatal pneumonia share similar glycosyl structures with the polysaccharides from Bacillus anthracis 
Glycobiology  2011;21(7):934-948.
Secondary cell wall polysaccharides (SCWPs) are important structural components of the Bacillus cell wall and contribute to the array of antigens presented by these organisms in both spore and vegetative forms. We previously found that antisera raised to Bacillus anthracis spore preparations cross-reacted with SCWPs isolated from several strains of pathogenic B. cereus, but did not react with other phylogenetically related but nonpathogenic Bacilli, suggesting that the SCWP from B. anthracis and pathogenic B. cereus strains share specific structural features. In this study, SCWPs from three strains of B. cereus causing severe or fatal pneumonia (G9241, 03BB87 and 03BB102) were isolated and subjected to structural analysis and their structures were compared to SCWPs from B. anthracis. Complete structural analysis was performed for the B. cereus G9241 SCWP using NMR spectroscopy, mass spectrometry and derivatization methods. The analyses show that SCWPs from B. cereus G9241 has a glycosyl backbone identical to that of B. anthracis SCWP, consisting of multiple trisaccharide repeats of: →6)-α-d-GlcpNAc-(1 → 4)-β-d-ManpNAc-(1 → 4)-β-d-GlcpNAc-(1→. Both the B. anthracis and pathogenic B. cereus SCWPs are highly substituted at all GlcNAc residues with α- and β-Gal residues, however, only the SCWPs from B. cereus G9241 and 03BB87 carry an additional α-Gal substitution at O-3 of ManNAc residues, a feature lacking in the B. anthracis SCWPs. Both the B. anthracis and B. cereus SCWPs are pyruvylated, with an approximate molecular mass of ≈12,000 Da. The implications of these findings regarding pathogenicity and cell wall structure are discussed.
PMCID: PMC3110489  PMID: 21421577
Bacillus anthracis; Bacillus cereus; cell wall; polysaccharide; structure
12.  Mutant Lipooligosaccharide-Based Conjugate Vaccine Demonstrates a Broad-Spectrum Effectiveness against Moraxella catarrhalis 
Vaccine  2011;29(25):4210-4217.
There is no licensed vaccine available against Moraxella catarrhalis, an exclusive human pathogen responsible for otitis media in children and respiratory infections in adults. We previously developed conjugate vaccine candidates based on lipooligosaccharides (LOSs) of M. catarrhalis serotypes A, B, and C, each of which was shown to cover a portion of the clinical strains. To generate conserved LOS antigens and eliminate a potential autoimmune response to a similar epitope between M. catarrhalis LOS moiety Galα1-4Galβ1-4Glc and human Pk antigen, two LOS mutants from strain O35E were constructed. Mutant O35Elgt5 or O35EgalE revealed a deletion of one or two terminal galactose residues of wild type O35E LOS. Each LOS molecule was purified, characterized, detoxified, and coupled to tetanus toxoid (TT) to form conjugates, namely dLOS-TT. Three subcutaneous immunizations using dLOS-TT from O35Elgt5 or O35EgalE elicited significant increases (a 729- or 1263-fold above the preimmune serum levels) of serum immunoglobulin (Ig)G against O35E LOS in rabbits with an adjuvant or without an adjuvant (an 140- or 140-fold above the preimmune serum levels). Rabbit antisera demonstrated elevated complement-mediated bactericidal activities against the wild type strain O35E. The rabbit sera elicited by O35Elgt5 dLOS-TT were further examined and showed cross bactericidal activity against all additional 19 M. catarrhalis strains and clinical isolates studied. Moreover, the rabbit sera displayed cross-reactivity not only among three serotype strains but also clinical isolates in a whole-cell enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), which was further confirmed under transmission electron microscopy. In conclusion, O35Elgt5 dLOS-TT may act as a vaccine against most M. catarrhalis strains and therefore can be used for further in vivo efficacy studies.
PMCID: PMC3109615  PMID: 21501641
Moraxella catarrhalis; lipooligosaccharide mutant; conjugate vaccine; cross-reactivity; conserved antigen
13.  An acpXL Mutant of Rhizobium leguminosarum bv. phaseoli Lacks 27-Hydroxyoctacosanoic Acid in Its Lipid A and Is Developmentally Delayed during Symbiotic Infection of the Determinate Nodulating Host Plant Phaseolus vulgaris ▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2011;193(18):4766-4778.
Rhizobium leguminosarum is a Gram-negative bacterium that forms nitrogen-fixing symbioses with compatible leguminous plants via intracellular invasion and establishes a persistent infection within host membrane-derived subcellular compartments. Notably, an unusual very-long-chain fatty acid (VLCFA) is found in the lipid A of R. leguminosarum as well as in the lipid A of the medically relevant pathogens Brucella abortus, Brucella melitensis, Bartonella henselae, and Legionella pneumophila, which are also able to persist within intracellular host-derived membranes. These bacterial symbionts and pathogens each contain a homologous gene region necessary for the synthesis and transfer of the VLCFA to the lipid A. Within this region lies a gene that encodes the specialized acyl carrier protein AcpXL, on which the VLCFA is built. This study describes the biochemical and infection phenotypes of an acpXL mutant which lacks the VLCFA. The mutation was created in R. leguminosarum bv. phaseoli strain 8002, which forms symbiosis with Phaseolus vulgaris, a determinate nodulating legume. Structural analysis using gas chromatography and mass spectrometry revealed that the mutant lipid A lacked the VLCFA. Compared to the parent strain, the mutant was more sensitive to the detergents deoxycholate and dodecyl sulfate and the antimicrobial peptide polymyxin B, suggesting a compromise to membrane stability. In addition, the mutant was more sensitive to higher salt concentrations. Passage through the plant restored salt tolerance. Electron microscopic examination showed that the mutant was developmentally delayed during symbiotic infection of the host plant Phaseolus vulgaris and produced abnormal symbiosome structures.
PMCID: PMC3165650  PMID: 21764936
14.  Structures of the lipopolysaccharides from Rhizobium leguminosarum RBL5523 and its UDP-glucose dehydrogenase mutant (exo5) 
Glycobiology  2010;21(1):55-68.
Rhizobial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) is required to establish an effective symbiosis with its host plant. An exo5 mutant of Rhizobium leguminosarum RBL5523, strain RBL5808, is defective in UDP-glucose (Glc) dehydrogenase that converts UDP-Glc to UDP-glucuronic acid (GlcA). This mutant is unable to synthesize either UDP-GlcA or UDP-galacturonic acid (GalA) and is unable to synthesize extracellular and capsular polysaccharides, lacks GalA in its LPS and is defective in symbiosis (Laus MC, Logman TJ, van Brussel AAN, Carlson RW, Azadi P, Gao MY, Kijne JW. 2004. Involvement of exo5 in production of surface polysaccharides in Rhizobium leguminosarum and its role in nodulation of Vicia sativa subsp. nigra. J Bacteriol. 186:6617–6625). Here, we determined and compared the structures of the RBL5523 parent and RBL5808 mutant LPSs. The parent LPS core oligosaccharide (OS), as with other R. leguminosarum and Rhizobium etli strains, is a Gal1Man1GalA3Kdo3 octasaccharide in, which each of the GalA residues is terminally linked. The core OS from the mutant lacks all three GalA residues. Also, the parent lipid A consists of a fatty acylated GlcNGlcNonate or GlcNGlcN disaccharide that has a GalA residue at the 4′-position, typical of other R. leguminosarum and R. etli lipids A. The mutant lipid A lacks the 4′-GalA residue, and the proximal glycosyl residue was only present as GlcNonate. In spite of these alterations to the lipid A and core OSs, the mutant was still able to synthesize an LPS containing a normal O-chain polysaccharide (OPS), but at reduced levels. The structure of the OPS of the mutant LPS was identical to that of the parent and consists of an O-acetylated →4)-α-d-Glcp-(1→3)-α-d-QuipNAc-(1→ repeating unit.
PMCID: PMC2998983  PMID: 20817634
lipopolysaccharide; Rhizobium leguminosarum; structure; symbiosis
15.  Antibody Responses to a Spore Carbohydrate Antigen as a Marker of Nonfatal Inhalation Anthrax in Rhesus Macaques ▿ 
The Bacillus anthracis exosporium protein BclA contains an O-linked antigenic tetrasaccharide whose terminal sugar is known as anthrose (J. M. Daubenspeck et al., J. Biol. Chem. 279:30945–30953, 2004). We hypothesized that serologic responses to anthrose may have diagnostic value in confirming exposure to aerosolized B. anthracis. We evaluated the serologic responses to a synthetic anthrose-containing trisaccharide (ATS) in a group of five rhesus macaques that survived inhalation anthrax following exposure to B. anthracis Ames spores. Two of five animals (RM2 and RM3) were treated with ciprofloxacin starting at 48 hours postexposure and two (RM4 and RM5) at 72 h postexposure; one animal (RM1) was untreated. Infection was confirmed by blood culture and detection of anthrax toxin lethal factor (LF) in plasma. Anti-ATS IgG responses were determined at 14, 21, 28, and 35 days postexposure, with preexposure serum as a control. All animals, irrespective of ciprofloxacin treatment, mounted a specific, measurable anti-ATS IgG response. The earliest detectable responses were on days 14 (RM1, RM2, and RM5), 21 (RM4), and 28 (RM3). Specificity of the anti-ATS responses was demonstrated by competitive-inhibition enzyme immunoassay (CIEIA), in which a 2-fold (wt/wt) excess of carbohydrate in a bovine serum albumin (BSA) conjugate of the oligosaccharide (ATS-BSA) effected >94% inhibition, whereas a structural analog lacking the 3-hydroxy-3-methyl-butyryl moiety at the C-4" of the anthrosyl residue had no inhibition activity. These data suggest that anti-ATS antibody responses may be used to identify aerosol exposure to B. anthracis spores. The anti-ATS antibody responses were detectable during administration of ciprofloxacin.
PMCID: PMC3122534  PMID: 21389148
16.  Requirement of NMB0065 for connecting assembly and export of sialic acid capsular polysaccharides in Neisseria meningitidis 
Capsule expression in Neisseria meningitidis is encoded by the cps locus comprised of genes required for biosynthesis and surface translocation. Located adjacent to the gene encoding the polysialyltransferase in serogroups expressing sialic acid-containing capsule, NMB0065 is likely a member of the cps locus, but it is not found in serogroups A or X that express non-sialic acid capsules. To further understand its role in CPS expression, NMB0065 mutants were created in the serogroups B, C and Y strains. The mutants were as sensitive as unencapsulated strains to killing by normal human serum, despite producing near wild-type levels of CPS. Absence of surface expression of capsule was suggested by increased surface hydrophobicity and confirmed by immunogold electron microscopy, which revealed the presence of large vacuoles containing CPS within the cell. GC-MS and NMR analyses of purified capsule from the mutant revealed no apparent changes in polymer structures and lipid anchors. Mutants of NMB0065 homologues in other sialic acid CPS expressing meningococcal serogroups had similar phenotypes. Thus, NMB0065 (CtrG) is not involved in biosynthesis or lipidation of sialic acid-containing capsule but encodes a protein required for proper coupling of the assembly complex to the membrane transport complex allowing surface expression of CPS.
PMCID: PMC2883662  PMID: 20215001
17.  Francisella Tularensis Blue–Gray Phase Variation Involves Structural Modifications of Lipopolysaccharide O-Antigen, Core and Lipid A and Affects Intramacrophage Survival and Vaccine Efficacy 
Francisella tularensis is a CDC Category A biological agent and a potential bioterrorist threat. There is no licensed vaccine against tularemia in the United States. A long-standing issue with potential Francisella vaccines is strain phase variation to a gray form that lacks protective capability in animal models. Comparisons of the parental strain (LVS) and a gray variant (LVSG) have identified lipopolysaccharide (LPS) alterations as a primary change. The LPS of the F. tularensis variant strain gains reactivity to F. novicida anti-LPS antibodies, suggesting structural alterations to the O-antigen. However, biochemical and structural analysis of the F. tularensis LVSG and LVS LPS demonstrated that LVSG has less O-antigen but no major O-antigen structural alterations. Additionally, LVSG possesses structural differences in both the core and lipid A regions, the latter being decreased galactosamine modification. Recent work has identified two genes important in adding galactosamine (flmF2 and flmK) to the lipid A. Quantitative real-time PCR showed reduced transcripts of both of these genes in the gray variant when compared to LVS. Loss of flmF2 or flmK caused less frequent phase conversion but did not alter intramacrophage survival or colony morphology. The LVSG strain demonstrated an intramacrophage survival defect in human and rat but not mouse macrophages. Consistent with this result, the LVSG variant demonstrated little change in LD50 in the mouse model of infection. Furthermore, the LVSG strain lacks the protective capacity of F. tularensis LVS against virulent Type A challenge. These data suggest that the LPS of the F. tularensis LVSG phase variant is dramatically altered. Understanding the mechanism of blue to gray phase variation may lead to a way to inhibit this variation, thus making future F. tularensis vaccines more stable and efficacious.
PMCID: PMC3109528  PMID: 21687776
Francisella; LPS; phase variation; tularemia; vaccine
18.  Phosphoglucomutase of Yersinia pestis Is Required for Autoaggregation and Polymyxin B Resistance▿  
Infection and Immunity  2009;78(3):1163-1175.
Yersinia pestis, the causative agent of plague, autoaggregates within a few minutes of cessation of shaking when grown at 28°C. To identify the autoaggregation factor of Y. pestis, we performed mariner-based transposon mutagenesis. Autoaggregation-defective mutants from three different pools were identified, each with a transposon insertion at a different position within the gene encoding phosphoglucomutase (pgmA; y1258). Targeted deletion of pgmA in Y. pestis KIM5 also resulted in loss of autoaggregation. Given the previously defined role for phosphoglucomutase in antimicrobial peptide resistance in other organisms, we tested the KIM5 ΔpgmA mutant for antimicrobial peptide sensitivity. The ΔpgmA mutant displayed >1,000-fold increased sensitivity to polymyxin B compared to the parental Y. pestis strain, KIM5. This sensitivity is not due to changes in lipopolysaccharide (LPS) since the LPSs from both Y. pestis KIM5 and the ΔpgmA mutant are identical based on a comparison of their structures by mass spectrometry (MS), tandem MS, and nuclear magnetic resonance analyses. Furthermore, the ability of polymyxin B to neutralize LPS toxicity was identical for LPS purified from both KIM5 and the ΔpgmA mutant. Our results indicate that increased polymyxin B sensitivity of the ΔpgmA mutant is due to changes in surface structures other than LPS. Experiments with mice via the intravenous and intranasal routes did not demonstrate any virulence defect for the ΔpgmA mutant, nor was flea colonization or blockage affected. Our findings suggest that the activity of PgmA results in modification and/or elaboration of a surface component of Y. pestis responsible for autoaggregation and polymyxin B resistance.
PMCID: PMC2825912  PMID: 20028810
19.  Rhizobium leguminosarum biovar viciae 3841, deficient in 27-hydroxyoctacosanoate-modified lipopolysaccharide, is impaired in desiccation tolerance, biofilm formation and motility 
Microbiology  2009;155(Pt 9):3055-3069.
The lipopolysaccharide (LPS) of the Gram-negative legume symbiont Rhizobium leguminosarum biovar viciae 3841 contains several unique modifications, including the addition of a 27-hydroxyoctacosanoic acid (27OHC28 : 0), also termed the very long chain fatty acid (VLCFA), attached at the 2′ position of lipid A. A transposon mutant that lacks expression of two putative 3-oxo-acyl [acyl-carrier protein] synthase II genes, fabF1 and fabF2, from the VLCFA biosynthetic cluster, was isolated and characterized. MS indicated that the lipid A of the mutant lacked the VLCFA modification, and sodium deoxycholate (DOC)-PAGE of the LPS indicated further structural alterations. The mutant was characteristically sensitive to several stresses that would be experienced in the soil environment, such as desiccation and osmotic stresses. An increase in the excretion of neutral surface polysaccharides was observed in the mutant. This mutant was also altered in its attachment to solid surfaces, and was non-motile, with most of the mutant cells lacking flagella. Despite the pleiotropic effects of the mutation, these mutants were still able to nodulate legumes and fix atmospheric nitrogen. This report emphasizes that a structurally intact VLCFA-containing lipid A is critical to cellular traits that are important for survival in the rhizosphere.
PMCID: PMC2850257  PMID: 19460825
20.  Secondary cell wall polysaccharides of Bacillus anthracis are antigens that contain specific epitopes which cross-react with three pathogenic Bacillus cereus strains that caused severe disease, and other epitopes common to all the Bacillus cereus strains tested 
Glycobiology  2009;19(6):665-673.
The immunoreactivities of hydrogen fluoride (HF)-released cell wall polysaccharides (HF-PSs) from selected Bacillus anthracis and Bacillus cereus strains were compared using antisera against live and killed B. anthracis spores. These antisera bound to the HF-PSs from B. anthracis and from three clinical B. cereus isolates (G9241, 03BB87, and 03BB102) obtained from cases of severe or fatal human pneumonia but did not bind to the HF-PSs from the closely related B. cereus ATCC 10987 or from B. cereus type strain ATCC 14579. Antiserum against a keyhole limpet hemocyanin conjugate of the B. anthracis HF-PS (HF-PS-KLH) also bound to HF-PSs and cell walls from B. anthracis and the three clinical B. cereus isolates, and B. anthracis spores. These results indicate that the B. anthracis HF-PS is an antigen in both B. anthracis cell walls and spores, and that it shares cross-reactive, and possibly pathogenicity-related, epitopes with three clinical B. cereus isolates that caused severe disease. The anti-HF-PS-KLH antiserum cross-reacted with the bovine serum albumin (BSA)-conjugates of all B. anthracis and all B. cereus HF-PSs tested, including those from nonclinical B. cereus ATCC 10987 and ATCC 14579 strains. Finally, the serum of vaccinated (anthrax vaccine adsorbed (AVA)) Rhesus macaques that survived inhalation anthrax contained IgG antibodies that bound the B. anthracis HF-PS-KLH conjugate. These data indicate that HF-PSs from the cell walls of the bacilli tested here are (i) antigens that contain (ii) a potentially virulence-associated carbohydrate antigen motif, and (iii) another antigenic determinant that is common to B. cereus strains.
PMCID: PMC2682610  PMID: 19270075
antigens; Bacillus anthracis; Bacillus cereus; polysaccharides; specificity
21.  Identification of a novel ABC transporter required for desiccation tolerance, and biofilm formation in Rhizobium leguminosarum bv. viciae 3841 
FEMS microbiology ecology  2009;71(3):327-340.
Rhizobium leguminosarum is a soil bacterium with the ability to form nitrogen-fixing nodules on the roots of leguminous plants. Soil-dwelling, free-living R. leguminosarum often encounters desiccation stress, which impacts its survival within the soil. The mechanisms by which soil bacteria resist the effects of desiccation stress have been described. However, the role of the cell envelope in the desiccation tolerance mechanisms of rhizobia is relatively uncharacterized. Using a transposon mutagenesis approach, a mutant of R. leguminosarum bv. viciae was isolated that was highly sensitive to desiccation. The mutation is located in the ATP-binding protein of an uncharacterized ATP-binding cassette transporter operon (RL2975–RL2977). Exopolysaccharide accumulation was significantly lower in the mutant and the decrease in desiccation tolerance was attributed to the decreased accumulation of exopolysaccharide. In addition to desiccation sensitivity, the mutant was severely impaired in biofilm formation, an important adaptation used by soil bacteria for survival. This work has identified a novel transporter required for physiological traits that are important for the survival of R. leguminosarum in the rhizosphere environment.
PMCID: PMC2868943  PMID: 20030718
ABC transporter; desiccation; biofilm; rhizobium; exopolysaccharide; cell envelope
22.  Rhizobium leguminosarum biovar viciae 3841, deficient in 27-hydroxyoctacosanoate-modified lipopolysaccharide, is impaired in desiccation tolerance, biofilm formation and motility 
Microbiology (Reading, England)  2009;155(Pt 9):3055-3069.
The lipopolysaccharide (LPS) of the Gram-negative legume symbiont Rhizobium leguminosarum biovar viciae 3841 contains several unique modifications, including the addition of a 27-hydroxyoctacosanoic acid (27OHC28 : 0), also termed the very long chain fatty acid (VLCFA), attached at the 2′ position of lipid A. A transposon mutant that lacks expression of two putative 3-oxo-acyl [acyl-carrier protein] synthase II genes, fabF1 and fabF2, from the VLCFA biosynthetic cluster, was isolated and characterized. MS indicated that the lipid A of the mutant lacked the VLCFA modification, and sodium deoxycholate (DOC)-PAGE of the LPS indicated further structural alterations. The mutant was characteristically sensitive to several stresses that would be experienced in the soil environment, such as desiccation and osmotic stresses. An increase in the excretion of neutral surface polysaccharides was observed in the mutant. This mutant was also altered in its attachment to solid surfaces, and was non-motile, with most of the mutant cells lacking flagella. Despite the pleiotropic effects of the mutation, these mutants were still able to nodulate legumes and fix atmospheric nitrogen. This report emphasizes that a structurally intact VLCFA-containing lipid A is critical to cellular traits that are important for survival in the rhizosphere.
PMCID: PMC2850257  PMID: 19460825
23.  Chemical Synthesis and Immunological Properties of Oligosaccharides Derived from the Vegetative Cell Wall of Bacillus anthracis 
Bacillus anthracis vaccine candidate: Sera of rabbits exposed to live and irradiated-killed spores of B. anthracis Sterne 34F2 or immunized with B. anthracis polysaccharide conjugated to KLH elicited antibodies that recognize isolated polysaccharide and two synthetic trisaccharides providing a proof-of-concept step in the development of vegetative and spore-specific reagents for detection and targeting of non-protein structures of B. anthracis.
PMCID: PMC2832322  PMID: 18563773
Bacillus anthracis; glycoconjugate; oligosaccharide; vaccine; protein conjugation
24.  Identification of Two Late Acyltransferase Genes Responsible for Lipid A Biosynthesis in Moraxella catarrhalis 
The FEBS journal  2008;275(20):5201-5214.
Lipid A is a biological component of the lipooligosaccharide (LOS) of a human pathogen, Moraxella catarrhalis. No other acyltransferases except UDP-GlcNAc acyltransferase responsible for lipid A biosynthesis in M. catarrhalis have been elucidated. By informatics, two late acyltransferase genes lpxX and lpxL responsible for lipid A biosynthesis were identified, and knockout mutants of each gene in M. catarrhalis strain O35E was constructed and named as O35ElpxX and O35ElpxL. Structural analysis of lipid A from the parental strain and derived mutants showed that O35ElpxX lacked two decanoic acids (C10:0) while O35ElpxL lacked one dodecanoic (lauric) acid (C12:0), suggesting that lpxX gene encoded decanoyl transferase and lpxL gene encoded dodecanoyl transferase. Phenotypic analysis revealed that both mutants were similar to the parental strain in their toxicity in vitro. However, the O35ElpxX was sensitive to bactericidal activity of normal human serum and hydrophobic reagents. It had a reduced growth rate in broth and an accelerated bacterial clearance at 3 h (p <0.01) or 6 h (p <0.05) after an aerosol challenge in a murine model of bacterial pulmonary clearance. Meanwhile, the O35ElpxL presented alike patterns as the parental strain except it was slightly sensitive to the hydrophobic reagents. These results indicate that these two genes, particularly lpxX, encoding late acyltransferases responsible for incorporation of the acyloxyacyl linked secondary acyl chains into the lipid A are important for biological activities of M. catarrhalis.
PMCID: PMC2585779  PMID: 18795947
Moraxella catarrhalis; late acyltransferase; lipooligosaccharide; lpxX; lpxL
25.  Cell Wall Carbohydrate Compositions of Strains from the Bacillus cereus Group of Species Correlate with Phylogenetic Relatedness▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2007;190(1):112-121.
Members of the Bacillus cereus group contain cell wall carbohydrates that vary in their glycosyl compositions. Recent multilocus sequence typing (MLST) refined the relatedness of B. cereus group members by separating them into clades and lineages. Based on MLST, we selected several B. anthracis, B. cereus, and B. thuringiensis strains and compared their cell wall carbohydrates. The cell walls of different B. anthracis strains (clade 1/Anthracis) were composed of glucose (Glc), galactose (Gal), N-acetyl mannosamine (ManNAc), and N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc). In contrast, the cell walls from clade 2 strains (B. cereus type strain ATCC 14579 and B. thuringiensis strains) lacked Gal and contained N-acetylgalactosamine (GalNAc). The B. cereus clade 1 strains had cell walls that were similar in composition to B. anthracis in that they all contained Gal. However, the cell walls from some clade 1 strains also contained GalNAc, which was not present in B. anthracis cell walls. Three recently identified clade 1 strains of B. cereus that caused severe pneumonia, i.e., strains 03BB102, 03BB87, and G9241, had cell wall compositions that closely resembled those of the B. anthracis strains. It was also observed that B. anthracis strains cell wall glycosyl compositions differed from one another in a plasmid-dependent manner. When plasmid pXO2 was absent, the ManNAc/Gal ratio decreased, while the Glc/Gal ratio increased. Also, deletion of atxA, a global regulatory gene, from a pXO2− strain resulted in cell walls with an even greater level of Glc.
PMCID: PMC2223722  PMID: 17981984

Results 1-25 (42)