One of the most common pathways for the export of O-specific lipopolysaccharide (LPS) across the plasma membrane requires the participation of the Wzx protein. Wzx belongs to a family of integral membrane proteins that share little conservation in their primary amino acid sequence, making it difficult to delineate functional domains. This paper reports the cloning and expression in Escherichia coli K-12 of various Wzx homologues from different bacteria as FLAG epitope-tagged protein fusions. A reconstitution system for O16 LPS synthesis was used to assess the ability of each Wzx protein to complement an E. coli K-12 Deltawzx mutant. The results demonstrate that Wzx proteins from O-antigen systems that use N-acetylglucosamine or N-acetylgalactosamine for the initiation of the biosynthesis of the O repeat can fully complement the formation of O16 LPS. Partial complementation was seen with Wzx from Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a system that uses N-acetylfucosamine in the initiation reaction. In contrast, there was negligible complementation with the Wzx protein from Salmonella enterica, a system in which galactose is the initiating sugar. These results support a model whereby the first sugar of the O repeat can be recognized by the O-antigen translocation machinery.
ASJC Scopus subject areas