Yersinia enterocolitica serotype O:9 is a gram-negative enteropathogen that infects animals and humans. The role of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) in Y. enterocolitica O:9 pathogenesis, however, remains unclear. The O:9 LPS consists of lipid A to which is linked the inner core oligosaccharide, serving as an attachment site for both the outer core (OC) hexasaccharide and the O-polysaccharide (OPS; a homopolymer of N-formylperosamine). In this work, we cloned the OPS gene cluster of O:9 and identified 12 genes organized into four operons upstream of the gnd gene. Ten genes were predicted to encode glycosyltransferases, the ATP-binding cassette polysaccharide translocators, or enzymes required for the biosynthesis of GDP-N-formylperosamine. The two remaining genes within the OPS gene cluster, galF and galU, were not ascribed a clear function in OPS biosynthesis; however, the latter gene appeared to be essential for O:9. The biological functions of O:9 OPS and OC were studied using isogenic mutants lacking one or both of these LPS parts. We showed that OPS and OC confer resistance to human complement and polymyxin B; the OPS effect on polymyxin B resistance could be observed only in the absence of OC.
Journal of Bacteriology, 2007, Vol 189, Issue 20, p. 7244-7253