Identification of exopolysaccharide-deficient mutants ofMycoplasma pulmonis

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Abstract

The presence of capsular exopolysaccharide (EPS) inMollicuteshas been inferred from electron micrographs for over 50 years without conclusive data to support the production of complex carbohydrates by the organism.Mycoplasma pulmonisbinds the lectinGriffonia simplicifoliaI (GS-I), which is specific for terminal β-linked galactose residues. Mutants that failed to produce the EPS bound by GS-I were isolated from a transposon library. All of the mutants had the transposon located in open reading frame MYPU_7410 or MYPU_7420. These overlapping genes are predicted to code for a heterodimeric pair of ABC transporter permeases and may code for part of a new pathway for synthesis of EPS. Analysis by lectin-affinity chromatography in conjunction with gas chromatography demonstrated that the wild-type mycoplasma produced an EPS (EPS-I) composed of equimolar amounts of glucose and galactose that was lacking in the mutants. Phenotypic analysis revealed that the mutants had an increased propensity to form a biofilm on glass surfaces, colonized mouse lung and trachea efficiently, but had a decreased association with the A549 lung cell line. Confounding the interpretation of these results is the observation that the mutants missing EPS-I had an eightfold overproduction of an apparent second EPS (EPS-II) containingN-acetylglucosamine.

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