Functional analysis of the sialyltransferase complexes in Escherichia coli K1 and K92.
ABSTRACT: The polysialyltransferase (polyST) structural gene, neuS, for poly alpha 2,8sialic acid (PSA) capsule synthesis in Escherichia coli K1 was previously mapped near the kps region 1 and 2 junction (S. M. Steenbergen and E. R. Vimr, Mol. Microbiol. 4:603-611, 1990). Present Southern and colony blot hybridization results confirmed that neuS was a region 2 locus and indicated apparent homology with neuS from E. coli K92, bacteria that synthesize a sialyl alpha 2,8-2,9-linked polymer. A K1- mutant with an insertion mutation in neuS was complemented in trans by K92 neuS, providing direct evidence that neuS encoded the PSA polymerase. A 2.9-kb E. coli K1 kps subclone was sequenced to better characterize polyST. In addition to neuS, the results identified a new open reading frame, designated neuE, the linker sequence between regions 1 and 2, and the last gene of region 1, kpsS. The kpsS translational reading frame was confirmed by sequencing across the junction of a kpsS'-lacZ+ fusion. PolyST was identified by maxicell analysis of nested deletions and coupled in vitro transcription-translation assays. PolyST's derived primary structure predicted a 47,500-Da basic polypeptide without extensive similarity to other known proteins. PolyST activity was increased 31-fold and was membrane localized when neuS was cloned into an inducible expression vector, suggesting, together with the polyST primary structure, that polyST is a peripheral inner membrane glycosyltransferase. However, polyST could not initiate de novo PSA synthesis, indicating a functional requirement for other kps gene products. The existence of a sialyltransferase distinct from polyST was suggested by identification of a potential polyprenyl-binding motif in a C-terminal membrane-spanning domain of the predicted neuE gene product. Direct evidence for a quantitatively minor sialyltransferase activity, which could function to initiate PSA synthesis, was obtained by phenotypic analysis of mutants with multiple defects in sialic acid synthesis, degradation, and polymerization. The results provide an initial molecular description of K1 and K92 sialyltransferase complexes and suggest a possible common function for accessory kps gene products.
Project description:The neuS-encoded polysialytransferase (polyST) in Escherichia coli K1 catalyzes synthesis of polysialic acid homopolymers composed of unbranched sialyl alpha 2,8 linkages. Subcloning and complementation experiments showed that the K1 neuS was functionally interchangeable with the neuS from E. coli K92 (S. M. Steenbergen, T. J. Wrona, and E. R. Vimr, J. Bacteriol. 174:1099-1108, 1992), which synthesizes polysialic acid capsules with alternating sialyl alpha 2,8-2,9 linkages. To better understand the relationship between these polySTs, the complete K92 neuS sequence was determined. The results demonstrated that K1 and K92 neuS genes are homologous and indicated that the K92 copy may have evolved from its K1 homolog. Both K1 and K92 structural genes comprised 1,227 bp. There were 156 (12.7%) differences between the two sequences; among these mutations, 55 did not affect the derived primary structure of K92 polyST and hence were synonymous with the K1 sequence. Assuming maximum parsimony, another estimated 17 synonymous mutations plus 84 nonsynonymous mutations could account for the 70 amino acid replacements in K92 polyST; 36 of these replacements were judged to be conservative when compared with those of K1 polyST. There were no changes detected in the first 146 5' or last 129 3' bp of either gene, suggesting, in addition to the observed mutational differences, the possibility of a past recombination event between neuS loci of two different kps clusters. The results indicate that relatively few amino acid changes can account for the evolution of a glycosyltransferase with novel linkage specificity.
Project description:Capsular polysaccharides are important virulence determinants in a wide range of invasive infectious diseases. Although capsule synthesis has been extensively investigated, understanding polysaccharide export from the cytoplasm to the external environment has been more difficult. Here we present the results of a novel protection assay indicating that synthesis and export of the Escherichia coli K1 group 2 capsular polysialic acid (K1 antigen) occur within a protected subcellular compartment designated the sialisome. In addition to the polymerase encoded by neuS, localization and complementation analyses indicated that the sialisome includes the accessory membrane protein NeuE. The requirement for NeuE was suppressed by overproducing NeuS, suggesting that NeuE functions by stabilizing the polymerase or facilitating its assembly in the sialisome. Although an interaction between NeuE and NeuS could not be demonstrated with a bacterial two-hybrid system that reconstitutes an intracellular cell-signalling pathway, interactions between NeuS and KpsC as well as other sialisome components were detected. The combined results provide direct evidence for specific protein-protein interactions in the synthesis and export of group 2 capsular polysaccharides under in vivo conditions. The approaches developed here will facilitate further dissection of the sialisome, suggesting similar methodology for understanding the biosynthesis of other group 2 capsules.
Project description:The extracellular polysaccharide capsule is an essential virulence factor of Neisseria meningitidis, a leading cause of severe bacterial meningitis and sepsis. Serogroup B strains, the primary disease causing isolates in Europe and America, are encapsulated in alpha-2,8 polysialic acid (polySia). The capsular polymer is synthesized from activated sialic acid by action of a membrane-associated polysialyltransferase (NmB-polyST). Here we present a comprehensive characterization of NmB-polyST. Different from earlier studies, we show that membrane association is not essential for enzyme functionality. Recombinant NmB-polyST was expressed, purified and shown to synthesize long polySia chains in a non-processive manner in vitro. Subsequent structure-function analyses of NmB-polyST based on refined sequence alignments allowed the identification of two functional motifs in bacterial sialyltransferases. Both (D/E-D/E-G and HP motif) are highly conserved among different sialyltransferase families with otherwise little or no sequence identity. Their functional importance for enzyme catalysis and CMP-Neu5Ac binding was demonstrated by mutational analysis of NmB-polyST and is emphasized by structural data available for the Pasteurella multocida sialyltransferase PmST1. Together our data are the first description of conserved functional elements in the highly diverse families of bacterial (poly)sialyltransferases and thus provide an advanced basis for understanding structure-function relations and for phylogenetic sorting of these important enzymes.
Project description:The K1 capsular polysaccharide, a polymer of sialic acid, is an important virulence determinant of extraintestinal pathogenic Escherichia coli. The genes responsible for the synthesis and expression of the polysialic acid capsule of E. coli K1 are located on the 17-kb kps gene cluster, which is functionally divided into three regions. Central region 2 encodes proteins necessary for the synthesis, activation, and polymerization of sialic acid, while flanking regions 1 and 3 are involved in polymer transport to the cell surface. In this study, we identified two genes at the proximal end of region 2, neuD and neuB, which encode proteins with predicted sizes of 22.7 and 38.7 kDa, respectively. Several observations suggest that the neuB gene encodes sialic acid synthase. EV24, a neuB chromosomal mutant that expresses a capsule when provided exogenous sialic acid, could be complemented in trans by the cloned neuB gene. In addition, NeuB has significant sequence similarity to the product of the cpsB gene of Neisseria meningitidis group B, which is postulated to encode sialic acid synthase. We also present data indicating that neuD has an essential role in K1 polymer production. Cells harboring pSR426, which contains all of region 2 but lacks region 1 and 3 genes, produce an intracellular polymer. In contrast, no polymer accumulated in cells carrying a derivative of pSR426 lacking a functional neuD gene. Unlike strains with mutations in neuB, however, neuD mutants are not complemented by exogenous sialic acid, suggesting that NeuD is not involved in sialic acid synthesis. Additionally, cells harboring a mutation in neuD accumulated sialic acid and CMP-sialic acid. We also found no significant differences between the endogenous and exogenous sialyltransferase activities of a neuD mutant and the wild-type organism. NeuD shows significant similarity to a family of bacterial acetyltransferases, leading to the theory that NeuD is an acetyltransferase which may exert its influences through modification of other region 2 proteins.
Project description:Escherichia coli K1 is responsible for 80% of E. coli neonatal meningitis and is a common pathogen in urinary tract infections. Bacteria of this serotype are encapsulated with the alpha(2-8)-polysialic acid NeuNAc(alpha2-8), common to several bacterial pathogens. The gene cluster encoding the pathway for synthesis of this polymer is organized into three regions: (i) kpsSCUDEF, (ii) neuDBACES, and (iii) kpsMT. The K1 polysialyltransferase, NeuS, cannot synthesize polysialic acid de novo without other products of the gene cluster. Membranes isolated from strains having the entire K1 gene cluster can synthesize polysialic acid de novo. We designed a series of plasmid constructs containing fragments of regions 1 and 2 in two compatible vectors to determine the minimum number of gene products required for de novo synthesis of the polysialic acid from CMP-NeuNAc in K1 E. coli. We measured the ability of the various combinations of region 1 and 2 fragments to restore polysialyltransferase activity in vitro in the absence of exogenously added polysaccharide acceptor. The products of region 2 genes neuDBACES alone were not sufficient to support de novo synthesis of polysialic acid in vitro. Only membrane fractions harboring NeuES and KpsCS could form sialic polymer in the absence of exogenous acceptor at the concentrations formed by wild-type E. coli K1 membranes. Membrane fractions harboring NeuES and KpsC together could form small quantities of the sialic polymer de novo.
Project description:The up- and downregulation of polysialic acid-neural cell adhesion molecule (PSA-NCAM) expression on motorneurons during development is associated respectively with target innervation and synaptogenesis, and is regulated at the level of PSA enzymatic biosynthesis involving specific polysialyltransferase activity. The purpose of this study has been to describe the cellular mechanisms by which that regulation might occur. It has been found that developmental regulation of PSA synthesis by ciliary ganglion motorneurons is not reflected in the levels of polysialyltransferase-1 (PST) or sialyltransferase-X (STX) mRNA. On the other hand, PSA synthesis in both the ciliary ganglion and the developing tectum appears to be coupled to the concentration of calcium in intracellular compartments. This study documents a calcium dependence of polysialyltransferase activity in a cell-free assay over the range of 0.1-1 mM, and a rapid sensitivity of new PSA synthesis, as measured in a pulse-chase analysis of tissue explants, to calcium ionophore perturbation of intracellular calcium levels. Moreover, the relevant calcium pool appears to be within a specific intracellular compartment that is sensitive to thapsigargin and does not directly reflect the level of cytosolic calcium. Perturbation of other major second messenger systems, such as cAMP and protein kinase-dependent pathways, did not affect polysialylation in the pulse chase analysis. These results suggest that the shuttling of calcium to different pools within the cell can result in the rapid regulation of PSA synthesis in developing tissues.
Project description:The kps locus for polysialic acid capsule expression in Escherichia coli K1 is composed of a central group of biosynthetic neu genes, designated region 2, flanked on either side by region 1 or region 3 kps genes with poorly defined functions. Chromosomal mutagenesis with MudJ and subsequent complementation analysis, maxicell and in vitro protein expression studies, and nucleotide sequencing identified the region 1 gene, kpsE, which encodes a 39-kDa polypeptide. Polarity of the kpsE::lacZ mutation suggests an operonic structure for region 1. KpsE is homologous to putative polysaccharide-translocation components previously identified in Haemophilus influenzae type b and Neisseria meningitidis group B. An open reading frame upstream of kpsE encodes a 35-kDa polypeptide with homology to GutQ, a putative ATP-binding protein of unknown function encoded by gutQ of the glucitol utilization operon. Whether expression of the gutQ homolog as the potential first gene of region 1 is required for polysialic acid synthesis or localization is presently unknown.
Project description:The K1 capsule is an essential virulence determinant of Escherichia coli strains that cause meningitis in neonates. Biosynthesis and transport of the capsule, an alpha-2,8-linked polymer of sialic acid, are encoded by the 17-kb kps gene cluster. We deleted neuC, a K1 gene implicated in sialic acid synthesis, from the chromosome of EV36, a K-12-K1 hybrid, by allelic exchange. Exogenously added sialic acid restored capsule expression to the deletion strain (DeltaneuC), confirming that NeuC is necessary for sialic acid synthesis. The deduced amino acid sequence of NeuC showed similarities to those of UDP-N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc) 2-epimerases from both prokaryotes and eukaryotes. The NeuC homologue from serotype III Streptococcus agalactiae complements DeltaneuC. We cloned the neuC gene into an intein expression vector to facilitate purification. We demonstrated by paper chromatography that the purified neuC gene product catalyzed the formation of [2-(14)C]acetamidoglucal and [N-(14)C]acetylmannosamine (ManNAc) from UDP-[(14)C]GlcNAc. The formation of reaction intermediate 2-acetamidoglucal with the concomitant release of UDP was confirmed by proton and phosphorus nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. NeuC could not use GlcNAc as a substrate. These data suggest that neuC encodes an epimerase that catalyzes the formation of ManNAc from UDP-GlcNAc via a 2-acetamidoglucal intermediate. The unexpected release of the glucal intermediate and the extremely low rate of ManNAc formation likely were a result of the in vitro assay conditions, in which a key regulatory molecule or protein was absent.
Project description:The 17-kb kps gene cluster encodes proteins necessary for the synthesis, assembly, and translocation of the polysialic acid capsule of Escherichia coli K1. We previously reported that one of these genes, kpsD, encodes a 60-kDa periplasmic protein that is involved in the translocation of the polymer to the cell surface. The nucleotide sequence of the 2.4-kb BamHI-PstI fragment accommodating the kpsD gene was determined. Sequence analysis showed an open reading frame for a 558-amino-acid protein with a typical N-terminal prokaryotic signal sequence corresponding to the first 20 amino acids. KpsD was overexpressed, partially purified, and used to prepare polyclonal antiserum. A chromosomal insertion mutation was generated in the kpsD gene and results in loss of surface expression of the polysialic acid capsule. Immunodiffusion analysis and electron microscopy indicated that polysaccharide accumulates in the periplasmic space of mutant cells. A wild-type copy of kpsD supplied in trans complemented the chromosomal mutation, restoring extracellular expression of the K1 capsule. However, a kpsD deletion derivative (kpsD delta C11), which results in production of a truncated KpsD protein lacking its 11 C-terminal amino acids, was nonfunctional. Western blot (immunoblot) data from cell fractions expressing KpsD delta C11 suggest that the truncated protein was inefficiently exported into the periplasm and localized primarily to the cytoplasmic membrane.
Project description:Potential O-acetylation of the sialic acid residues of Escherichia coli K1, groups W-135, Y, and C meningococci, and group B Streptococcus capsular polysaccharides modifies their immunogenicity and susceptibility to glycosidases. Despite the biological importance of O-acetylation, no sialic or polysialic acid O-acetyltransferase has been identified in any system. Here we show that the E. coli K1 O-acetyltransferase encoded by neuO is genetically linked to the endo-neuraminidase tail protein gene of a chromosomal accretion element, designated CUS-3, with homology to lambdoid bacteriophage. Molecular epidemiological analysis established concordance between O-acetyltransferase and CUS-3 in a set of E. coli K1 strains. Deleting neuO eliminated enzymatic activity, which was restored by complementation in trans, and confirmed by (13)C-NMR analysis of the acetylated product. Analysis of mutants that accumulate intracellular polysialic acid because of export defects (kpsM and kpsS) or an inability to synthesize the sialic acid precursor, N-acetylmannosamine (neuC), indicated that NeuO does not require constant association with its substrate for activity. DNA sequencing and PCR analysis of neuO from strains that had undergone random capsule form variation showed that slip strand DNA mispairing or unequal recombination resulted in gain or loss of (5'-AAGACTC-3')(n) heptanucleotide repeats (where n approximately equals 14-39) located in the neuO 5' region. These repeats code for a previously undescribed structure designated the poly(Psi) motif. The unexpected discovery of the neuO contingency locus (hypervariable gene controlling expression of a surface epitope) in E. coli, and of a potential phage for redistributing variant neuO alleles, provides a robust system for investigating the functions of localized hypermutability in pathogen evolution.