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Acetylation (O-factor 5) affects the structural and immunological properties of Salmonella typhimurium lipopolysaccharide O antigen.

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  • Research Article


The lipopolysaccharide (LPS) of gram-negative bacteria serves as a barrier between the cell and its environment. The LPS O antigen is the immunodominant portion of the molecule and thus has a significant effect on the interaction between a bacterial pathogen and the host organism. Antibodies directed against O antigen are vital to the immune response to infection. In this study, we have characterized the interaction between a series of monoclonal immunoglobulin A antibodies and the LPS of Salmonella typhimurium. Using one of these antibodies, we have previously shown that monoclonal immunoglobulin A is sufficient to protect against S. typhimurium infection, both in vivo and in vitro. Here, we show that recognition of LPS by the monoclonal antibodies is affected by acetylation of the O antigen on the abequose moiety, the determinant of the O5 epitope. Although recognition of LPS by several of the monoclonal antibodies is completely dependent on acetylation, the antibodies recognize clearly separable epitopes. This suggests that acetylation of O antigen affects the three-dimensional structure of the molecule and thus creates and destroys a series of conformational antigenic determinants. We have shown that a change in the acetylation state of LPS has no effect on virulence. However, acetylation has important consequences for the mucosal immune response and thus could potentially have profound implications for the ability of an immune host to respond to a subsequent infection.

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