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Biosynthesis of the polysialic acid capsule in Escherichia coli K1. Cold inactivation of sialic acid synthase regulates capsule expression below 20 degrees C.

Authors
  • Merker, R I
  • Troy, F A
Type
Published Article
Journal
Glycobiology
Publication Date
Sep 01, 1990
Volume
1
Issue
1
Pages
93–100
Identifiers
PMID: 2136386
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

When neuroinvasive Escherichia coli K1 cells are grown at temperatures below 20 degrees C, they fail to synthesize the alpha-2,8-linked polysialic acid (polySia) capsule. The objective of this study was to use a genetic and biochemical approach to analyse why capsule expression was defective at cold temperatures. The strategy was to construct E.coli K1-derived mutants with defects in activation and degradation of Sia. The inability to degrade Sia because of a defect in the Sia-specific aldolase permitted accurate quantitation of Sia and CMP-Sia. Strains EV5 and EV90 possessed a defective CMP-Sia synthetase and were unable to activate Sia. These mutants were then used to study how synthesis of Sia, CMP-Sia, and the polySia capsule was affected by growth at 15 degrees C. In contrast to wild type strains, the mutants accumulated Sia in considerable quantities (up to 100 nmol mg protein-1) at 37 degrees C. However, no Sia was detected after growth at 15 degrees C. A temperature upshift experiment showed that the intracellular concentration of Sia increased ca. 3-fold within 5-10 min after shift from 15 to 37 degrees C, even in the presence of inhibitors of protein synthesis or transcription initiation. An in vitro assay for Sia synthase showed that Sia was synthesized at 37 degrees C in cell-free extracts from both 37 and 15 degrees C grown cells, but that no synthesis occurred when the same extracts were assayed at 15 degrees C.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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