Structure of the K2 capsule associated with the KL2 gene cluster of Acinetobacter baumannii

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The repeat unit structure of the K2 capsule from an extensively antibiotic-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii global clone 2 (GC2) strain was determined. The oligosaccharide contains three simple sugars, D-glucopyranose, D-galatopyranose and N-acetyl-D-galactosamine, and the complex sugar, 5,7-diacetamido-3,5,7,9-tetradeoxy-L-glycero-L-manno-non-2-ulosonic acid (Pse5Ac7Ac or pseudaminic acid), which has not previously been reported in any A. baumannii capsule. The strain was found to carry all the genes required for the synthesis of the sugars and construction of the K2 structure. The linkages catalyzed by the initiating transferase, three glycosyltransferases and the Wzy polymerase were also predicted. Examination of publicly available A. baumannii genome sequences revealed that the same gene cluster, KL2, often occurs in extensively antibiotic-resistant GC2 isolates and in further strain types. The gene module responsible for the synthesis of pseudaminic acid was also detected in four other K loci. A related module including genes for an acylated relative of pseudaminic acid was also found in two new KL types. A polymerase chain reaction scheme was developed to detect all modules containing genes for sugars based on pseudaminic acid and to specifically detect KL2.

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