Genetic and structural characterization of L11 lipooligosaccharide from Neisseria meningitidis serogroup A strains.
ABSTRACT: The lipooligosaccharide (LOS) of immunotype L11 is unique within serogroup A meningococci. In order to resolve its molecular structure, we conducted LOS genotyping by PCR analysis of genes responsible for alpha-chain sugar addition (lgtA, -B, -C, -E, -H, and -F) and inner core substituents (lgtG, lpt-3, and lpt-6). For this study, we selected seven strains belonging to subgroup III, a major clonal complex responsible for meningococcal meningitis epidemics in Africa. In addition, we sequenced the homopolymeric tract regions of three phase-variable genes (lgtA, lgtG, and lot-3) to predict gene functionality. The fine structure of the L11 LOS of each strain was determined using composition and glycosyl linkage analyses, NMR, and mass spectrometry. The masses of the dephosphorylated oligosaccharides were consistent with an oligosaccharide composed of two hexoses, one N-acetyl-hexosamine, two heptoses, and one KDO, as proposed previously. The molar composition of LOS showed two glucose residues to be present, in agreement with lgtH sequence prediction. Despite phosphoethanolaminetransferase genes lpt-3 and lpt-6 being present in all seven Neisseria meningitidis strains, phosphoethanolamine (PEtn) was found at both O-3 and O-6 of HepII among the three ST-5 strains, whereas among the four ST-7 strains, only one PEtn was found and located at O-3 of the HepII. The L11 LOS was found to be O-acetylated, as was indicated by the presence of the lot-3 gene being in-frame in all of the seven N. meningitidis strains. To our knowledge, these studies represent the first full genetic and structural characterization of the L11 LOS of N. meningitidis. These investigations also suggest the presence of further regulatory mechanisms affecting LOS structure microheterogeneity in N. meningitidis related to PEtn decoration of the inner core.
Project description:The lipooligosaccharide (LOS) of Neisseria meningitidis contains heptose (Hep) residues that are modified with phosphoethanolamine (PEtn) at the 3 (3-PEtn) and/or 6 (6-PEtn) position. The lpt3 (NMB2010) and lpt6 (NMA0408) genes of N. meningitidis, which are proposed to encode the required HepII 3- and 6-PEtn transferases, respectively, were cloned and overexpressed as C-terminally polyhistidine-tagged fusion proteins in Escherichia coli and found to localize to the inner membrane, based on sucrose density gradient centrifugation. Lpt3-His(6) and Lpt6-His(6) were purified from Triton X-100-solubilized membranes by nickel chelation chromatography, and dot blot analysis of enzymatic reactions with 3-PEtn- and 6-PEtn-specific monoclonal antibodies demonstrated conclusively that Lpt3 and Lpt6 are phosphatidylethanolamine-dependent LOS HepII 3- and 6-PEtn transferases, respectively, and that both enzymes are capable of transferring PEtn to both fully acylated LOS and de-O-acylated (de-O-Ac) LOS. Further enzymatic studies using capillary electrophoresis-mass spectrometry (MS) demonstrated that both Lpt3 and Lpt6 are capable of transferring PEtn to de-O-Ac LOS molecules already containing PEtn at the 6 and 3 positions of HepII, respectively, demonstrating that there is no obligate order of PEtn addition in the generation of 3,6-di-PEtn LOS moieties in vitro.
Project description:The present study was undertaken to examine the extent to which the lgt locus varies among strains of gonococci. This locus encodes five glycosyl transferases involved in the synthesis of the lipooligosaccharide (LOS) of Neisseria gonorrhoeae. We examined seven gonococcal strains and found that the structure of the lgt locus is conserved among six of these strains. The locus is strikingly altered in strain 15253. This is one of the few strains where extensive structural analysis of its LOS is available, and therefore, we defined the altered lgt locus and focused on the reactivity of mAB 2C7. We found that strain 15253 contains only two lgt genes, lgtA and lgtE. As in F62, lgtA encodes a GlcNAc transferase and is subject to phase variation. In addition, by analysis of deletion mutants, we found that lgtE, which encodes a galactosyl transferase that is required for elongating the alpha-chain, is also necessary for completing the beta chain.
Project description:Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the causative agent of the sexually transmitted infection, gonorrhea, has developed resistance to most conventional antibiotics. Safe and effective vaccines against gonorrhea are needed urgently. A candidate vaccine that targets a lipooligosaccharide (LOS) epitope recognized mAb 2C7 attenuates gonococcal burden in the mouse vaginal colonization model. Glycan extensions from the LOS core heptoses (HepI and HepII) are controlled by phase-variable LOS glycosyltransferase (lgt) genes; we sought to define how HepI glycan extensions affect mAb 2C7 function. Isogenic gonococcal mutants in which the lgt required for mAb 2C7 reactivity (lgtG) was genetically locked on and the lgt loci required for HepI variation (lgtA, lgtC, and lgtD) were genetically locked on or off in different combinations were created. We observed 100% complement-dependent killing by mAb 2C7 of a mutant that expressed lactose (Gal-Glc) from HepI, whereas a mutant that expressed Gal-Gal-Glc-HepI fully resisted killing (>100% survival). Mutants that elaborated 4- (Gal-GlcNAc-Gal-Glc-HepI) and 5-glycan (GalNAc-Gal-GlcNAc-Gal-Glc-HepI) structures displayed intermediate phenotypes (<50% killing with 2 ?g/ml and >95% killing with 4 ?g/ml mAb 2C7). The contrasting phenotypes of the lactose-HepI and the Gal-Gal-Glc-HepI LOS structures were recapitulated with phase variants of a recently isolated clinical strain. Despite lack of killing of the Gal-Gal-Glc-HepI mutants, mAb 2C7 deposited sufficient C3 on these bacteria for opsonophagocytic killing by human neutrophils. In conclusion, mAb 2C7 showed functional activity against all gonococcal HepI LOS structures defined by various lgtA/C/D on/off combinations, thereby providing further impetus for use of the 2C7 epitope in a gonococcal vaccine.
Project description:Pasteurella multocida is classified into 16 serotypes according to the Heddleston typing scheme. As part of a comprehensive study to define the structural and genetic basis of this scheme, we have determined the structure of the lipopolysaccharide (LPS) produced by P. multocida strains M1404 (B:2) and P1702 (E:5), the type strains for serotypes 2 and 5, respectively. The only difference between the LPS structures made by these two strains was the absence of a phosphoethanolamine (PEtn) moiety at the 3 position of the second heptose (Hep II) in M1404. Analysis of the lpt-3 gene, required for the addition of this PEtn residue, revealed that the gene was intact in P1702 but contained a nonsense mutation in M1404. Expression of an intact copy of lpt-3 in M1404 resulted in the attachment of a PEtn residue to the 3 position of the Hep II residue, generating an LPS structure identical to that produced by P1702. We identified and characterized each of the glycosyltransferase genes required for assembly of the serotype 2 and 5 LPS outer core. Monoclonal antibodies raised against serotype 2 LPS recognized the serotype 2/5-specific outer core LPS structure, but recognition of this structure was inhibited by the PEtn residue on Hep II. These data indicate that the serological classification of strains into Heddleston serotypes 2 and 5 is dependent on the presence or absence of PEtn on Hep II.
Project description:A lipooligosaccharide (LOS) mutant of Neisseria meningitidis serogroup B strain NMB (immunotype L3,7,9) was identified in a Tn916 (tetM) mutant bank by loss of reactivity with monoclonal antibody 3F11, which recognizes the terminal Galbeta1-->4GlcNAc epitope in the lacto-N-neotetraose moiety of the wild-type LOS structure. The mutant, designated 559, was found to express a truncated LOS of 3.0 kDa. Southern and PCR analyses demonstrated that there was a single intact Tn916 insertion (class I) in the mutant 559 chromosome. Linkage of the LOS phenotype and the Tn916 insertion was confirmed by transformation of the wild-type parent. Nucleotide sequence analysis of the region surrounding the transposition site revealed a 1,065-bp open reading frame (ORF). A homology search of the GenBank/EMBL database revealed that the amino acid sequence of this ORF had 46.8% similarity and 21.2% identity with the alpha1,2 N-acetylglucosamine transferase (RfaK) from Salmonella typhimurium. Glycosyl composition and linkage analysis of the LOS produced by mutant 559 revealed that the lacto-N-neotetraose group which is attached to heptose I (HepI) and the N-acetylglucosamine and glucose residues that are attached to HepII in the inner core of the parental LOS were absent. These analyses also showed that the HepII residue in both the parent and the mutant LOS molecules was phosphorylated, presumably by a phosphoethanolamine substituent. The insertion of nonpolar and polar antibiotic resistance cartridges into the parental rfaK gene resulted in the expression of LOS with the same mobility as that produced by mutant 559. This result indicated that the inability to add the lacto-N-neotetraose group to the 559 LOS is not due to a polar effect on a gene(s) downstream of rfaK. Our data indicate that we have identified the meningococcal alpha1,2 N-acetylglucosamine transferase responsible for the addition of N-acetylglucosamine to HepII. We propose that the lack of alpha-chain extension from HepI in the LOS of mutant 559 may be due to structural constraints imposed by the incomplete biosynthesis of the LOS inner core.
Project description:Sialylation of lacto-N-neotetraose (LNnT) extending from heptose I (HepI) of gonococcal lipooligosaccharide (LOS) contributes to pathogenesis. Previously, gonococcal LOS sialyltransterase (Lst) was shown to sialylate LOS in Triton X-100 extracts of strain 15253, which expresses lactose from both HepI and HepII, the minimal structure required for monoclonal antibody (MAb) 2C7 binding. Ongoing work has shown that growth of 15253 in cytidine monophospho-N-acetylneuraminic acid (CMP-Neu5Ac)-containing medium enables binding to CD33/Siglec-3, a cell surface receptor that binds sialic acid, suggesting that lactose termini on LOSs of intact gonococci can be sialylated. Neu5Ac was detected on LOSs of strains 15253 and an MS11 mutant with lactose only from HepI and HepII by mass spectrometry; deleting HepII lactose rendered Neu5Ac undetectable. Resistance of HepII lactose Neu5Ac to desialylation by ?2-3-specific neuraminidase suggested an ?2-6 linkage. Although not associated with increased factor H binding, HepII lactose sialylation inhibited complement C3 deposition on gonococci. Strain 15253 mutants that lacked Lst or HepII lactose were significantly attenuated in mice, confirming the importance of HepII Neu5Ac in virulence. All 75 minimally passaged clinical isolates from Nanjing, China, expressed HepII lactose, evidenced by reactivity with MAb 2C7; MAb 2C7 was bactericidal against the first 62 (of 75) isolates that had been collected sequentially and were sialylated before testing. MAb 2C7 effectively attenuated 15253 vaginal colonization in mice. In conclusion, this novel sialylation site could explain the ubiquity of gonococcal HepII lactose in vivo Our findings reinforce the candidacy of the 2C7 epitope as a vaccine antigen and MAb 2C7 as an immunotherapeutic antibody.
Project description:We have characterized an operon required for inner-core biosynthesis of the lipooligosaccharide (LOS) of Neisseria meningitidis. Using Tn916 mutagenesis, we recently identified the alpha-1,2-N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc) transferase gene (rfaK), which when inactivated prevents the addition of GlcNAc and alpha chain to the meningococcal LOS inner core (C. M. Kahler, R. W. Carlson, M. M. Rahman, L. E. Martin, and D. S. Stephens, J. Bacteriol. 178:1265-1273, 1996). During the study of rfaK, a second open reading frame (lgtF) of 720 bp was found upstream of rfaK. An amino acid sequence homology search of the GenBank and EMBL databases revealed that the amino terminus of LgtF has significant homology with a family of beta-glycosyltransferases involved in the biosynthesis of polysaccharides and O antigen of lipopolysaccharides. The chromosomal copy of lgtF was mutagenized with a nonpolar antibiotic resistance cassette to minimize potential polar effects on rfaK. Tricine sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and composition analysis of the LOS from the nonpolar lgtF mutant showed that this strain produced a truncated LOS structure which contained a LOS inner core of GlcNAc1Hep2KDO2lipid A but without the addition of lacto-N-neotetraose to HepI or glucose to HepII. These results and the amino acid homology with beta-glycosyltransferases suggest that lgtF encodes the UDP-glucose:LOS-beta-1,4-glucosyltransferase which attaches the first glucose residue to HepI of LOS. Reverse transcriptase PCR and primer extension analysis indicate that both lgtF and rfaK are cotranscribed as a polycistronic message from a promoter upstream of lgtF. This arrangement suggests that completion of the LOS inner core and the initiation of the alpha chain addition are tightly coregulated in N. meningitidis.
Project description:Campylobacter jejuni is a natural commensal of the avian intestinal tract. However, the bacterium is also the leading cause of acute bacterial diarrhea worldwide and is implicated in development of Guillain-Barré syndrome. Like many bacterial pathogens, C. jejuni assembles complex surface structures that interface with the surrounding environment and are involved in pathogenesis. Recent work in C. jejuni identified a gene encoding a novel phosphoethanolamine (pEtN) transferase, EptC (Cj0256), that plays a promiscuous role in modifying the flagellar rod protein, FlgG; the lipid A domain of lipooligosaccharide (LOS); and several N-linked glycans. In this work, we report that EptC catalyzes the addition of pEtN to the first heptose sugar of the inner core oligosaccharide of LOS, a fourth enzymatic target. We also examine the role pEtN modification plays in circumventing detection and/or killing by host defenses. Specifically, we show that modification of C. jejuni lipid A with pEtN results in increased recognition by the human Toll-like receptor 4-myeloid differentiation factor 2 (hTLR4-MD2) complex, along with providing resistance to relevant mammalian and avian antimicrobial peptides (i.e., defensins). We also confirm the inability of aberrant forms of LOS to activate Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2). Most exciting, we demonstrate that strains lacking eptC show decreased commensal colonization of chick ceca and reduced colonization of BALB/cByJ mice compared to wild-type strains. Our results indicate that modification of surface structures with pEtN by EptC is key to its ability to promote commensalism in an avian host and to survive in the mammalian gastrointestinal environment.
Project description:The lipooligosaccharide (LOS) expressed by gonococci spontaneously varies its structure at high frequency, but the underlying genetic mechanism has not been described. We have previously reported that the genes encoding the glycosyl transferases responsible for the biosynthesis of the variable alpha chain of the LOS of Neisseria gonorrhoeae are located in a locus containing five genes, lgtA, lgtB, lgtC, lgtD, and lgtE. Sequence analysis showed that lgtA, lgtC, and lgtD contained poly-G tracts within the coding frames, leading to the hypothesis that shifts in the number of guanosine residues in the poly-G tracts might be responsible for the high frequency variation in structure of gonococcal LOS. We now provide experimental evidence confirming this hypothesis.
Project description:Neisseria meningitidis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae modify the terminal lacto-N-neotetraose moiety of their lipooligosaccharide (LOS) with sialic acid. N. gonorrhoeae LOS sialylation blocks killing by complement, which is mediated at least in part by enhanced binding of the complement inhibitor factor H (FH). The role of LOS sialylation in resistance of N. meningitidis to serum killing is less well defined. Sialylation in each species is catalyzed by the enzyme LOS α-2,3-sialyltransferase (Lst). Previous studies have shown increased Lst activity in N. gonorrhoeae compared to N. meningitidis due to an ~5-fold increase in lst transcription. Using isogenic N. gonorrhoeae strains engineered to express gonococcal lst from either the N. gonorrhoeae or N. meningitidis lst promoter, we show that decreased expression of lst (driven by the N. meningitidis promoter) reduced LOS sialylation as determined by less incorporation of tritium-labeled cytidine monophospho-N-acetylneuraminic acid (CMP-NANA; the donor molecule for sialic acid). Diminished LOS sialylation resulted in reduced rates of FH binding and increased pathway activation compared to N. gonorrhoeae promoter-driven lst expression. The N. meningitidis lst promoter generated sufficient Lst to sialylate N. gonorrhoeae LOS in vivo, and the level of sialylation after 24 h in the mouse genital tract was sufficient to mediate resistance to human serum ex vivo. Despite demonstrable LOS sialylation in vivo, gonococci harboring the N. meningitidis lst promoter were outcompeted by those with the N. gonorrhoeae lst promoter during coinfection of the vaginal tract of estradiol-treated mice. These data highlight the importance of high lst expression levels for gonococcal pathogenesis.Neisseria gonorrhoeae has become resistant to nearly every therapeutic antibiotic used and is listed as an "urgent threat" by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Novel therapies are needed to combat drug-resistant N. gonorrhoeae. Gonococci express an α-2,3-sialyltransferase (Lst) that can scavenge sialic acid from the host and use it to modify lipooligosaccharide (LOS). Sialylation of gonococcal LOS converts serum-sensitive strains to serum resistance, decreases antibody binding, and combats killing by neutrophils and antimicrobial peptides. Mutant N. gonorrhoeae that lack Lst (cannot sialylate LOS) are attenuated in a mouse model. Lst expression levels differ among N. gonorrhoeae strains, and N. gonorrhoeae typically expresses more Lst than Neisseria meningitidis. Here we examined the significance of differential lst expression levels and determined that the level of LOS sialylation is critical to the ability of N. gonorrhoeae to combat the immune system and survive in an animal model. LOS sialylation may be an ideal target for novel therapies.