Lipopolysaccharide (LPS), a glycolipid molecule found on the outer leaflet of outer membranes of gram-negative bacteria, consists of three moieties: lipid A, core oligosaccharide, and the O-specific polysaccharide chain. The O-specific side chain, which extends to the extracellular milieu, plays an important role in pathogenicity, especially during the initial stages of infection, because of its ability to interact with serum complement. In recent years, several laboratories have used recombinant DNA tools to determine, at the molecular level, the organization, expression, and regulation of genes involved in LPS biosynthesis in Salmonella and Escherichia coli. An increased understanding of the molecular aspects of the O-specific side-chain genes will shed light on the intimate details related with the formation of the O-specific side chain, its assembly onto the lipid A--core, and the translocation and insertion of the complete LPS molecule into the outer membrane. It will also contribute to the understanding of the evolution of these genes and the correlation of chemical diversity of O-specific side chains with the genetic diversity of O-specific side-chain genes. In addition, since the O-specific side chains are involved in the pathogenicity of medically important gram-negative bacteria, a basic understanding of the regulation and expression of O-specific side chain LPS genes will contribute to the field of molecular pathogenesis. This article provides an overview of the role of O-specific side chains in septicemic infections and also discusses the current status of molecular genetic studies on O-specific side-chain genes from E. coli.
|Number of pages
|Canadian Journal of Microbiology
|Published - 1992