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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/16776

Title: Characterization of Polysaccharide Biosynthesis, Structure and Regulation in Vibrio vulnificus
Authors: Nakhamchik, Alina
Advisor: Rowe-Magnus, Dean
Department: Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology
Keywords: Polysaccharide biosynthesis
Vibrio vulnificus
virulence factors
cyclic diguanylate
horizontal gene transfer
Issue Date: 20-Jan-2009
Abstract: Vibrio vulnificus are marine bacteria causing fatal septicemia through wound infections or consumption of contaminated seafood. V. vulnificus is an excellent model for the study of surface polysaccharides, as it is capable of synthesizing capsular polysaccharide (CPS), lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and exopolysaccharide (EPS). V. vulnificus strains exhibit a multitude of carbotypes that evolve through unknown mechanisms. CPS is a confirmed virulence factor, but the genetics of its biosynthesis are unknown. The main objective of these experiments was to gain insight into the biosynthesis, regulation and evolution of ATCC 27562 outer surface polysaccharides. A miniTn10 transposon (Tn) system was used for mutagenesis and single insertions were confirmed through Southern analysis. A novel 25 kb CPS biosynthesis locus was identified through sequencing of regions surrounding Tn insertions; a region encoding putative LPS core biosynthetic functions was identified adjacent to the CPS cluster. The CPS locus contained features of O-antigen biosynthetic loci and was unusual in carrying characteristics of both group I and IV capsular biosynthetic loci. Mutations in this region resulted in elimination of CPS and LPS, and both were shown to be dependent on the activity of the polymerase Wzy. Evidence is presented here supporting horizontal transfer (HT) as a contributor to V. vulnificus CPS evolution. CPS regions of V. vulnificus 27562, YJ016 and CMCP6 contain strain specific genes surrounded by conserved regions, suggestive of HT. Moreover, a CPS locus virtually identical to that of 27562 was discovered in Shewanella putrefaciens strain 200. 27562 CPS is distinctive as it contains N-acetylmuramic acid. Genes encoding murA and murB activities were identified within the cluster and shown to be functionally redundant, supporting HT acquisition of this region. A screen of V. vulnificus gDNA library using CPS biosynthesis and transport mutants identified a cyclic diguanylate cyclase, dcpA. dcpA-mediated increase in cyclic diguanylate lead to EPS production, rugosity phenotypes and enhanced biofilm formation. Interestingly, virulence and motility were not affected suggesting complexity of cyclic diguanylate regulation in V. vulnificus, supported by the large number of cyclic diguanylate related proteins in Vulnificus strains.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/16776
Appears in Collections:Doctoral
Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology - Doctoral theses

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