Genetic analysis of the dTDP-rhamnose biosynthesis region of the Escherichia coli VW187 (O7:K1) rfb gene cluster: identification of functional homologs of rfbB and rfbA in the rff cluster and correct location of the rffE gene

C L Marolda, M A Valvano

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Abstract

The O-repeating unit of the Escherichia coli O7-specific lipopolysaccharide is made of galactose, mannose, rhamnose, 4-acetamido-4,6-dideoxyglucose, and N-acetyglucosamine. We have recently characterized the genes involved in the biosynthesis of the sugar precursor GDP-mannose occurring in the E. coli O7:K1 strain VW187 (C. L. Marolda and M. A. Valvano, J. Bacteriol. 175:148-158, 1993). In the present study, we identified and sequenced the rfbBDAC genes encoding the enzymes for the biosynthesis of another precursor, dTDP-rhamnose. These genes are localized on the upstream end of the rfbEcO7 region, and they are strongly conserved compared with similar genes found in various enteric and nonenteric bacteria. Upstream of rfbB we identified a DNA segment containing the rfb promoter and a highly conserved untranslated leader sequence also present in the promoter regions of other surface polysaccharide gene clusters. Also, we have determined that rfbB and rfbA have homologs, rffG (o355) and rffH (o292), respectively, located on the rff cluster, which is involved in the synthesis of enterobacterial common antigen. We provide biochemical evidence that rffG and rffH encode dTDP-glucose dehydratase and glucose-1-phosphate thymidylyltransferase activities, respectively, and we also show that rffG complemented the rfbB defect in the O7+ cosmid pJHCV32. We also demonstrate that rffG is distinct from rffE and map the rffE gene to the second gene of the rff cluster.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5539-46
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Bacteriology
Volume177
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 1995

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