Vibrio cholerae O139 strains produce a capsule which is associated with complement resistance and is used as a receptor by bacteriophage JA1. Spontaneous JA1-resistant mutants were found to have several phenotypes, with loss of capsule and/or O-antigen from the cell surface. Determination of the residual complement resistance and infant mouse colonization potential of each mutant suggested that production of O-antigen is of much greater significance than the presence of capsular material for both of these properties. Two different in vitro assays of complement resistance were compared and the results of one shown to closely reflect the comparative recoveries of bacteria from the colonization experiments. Preliminary complementation studies implicated two rfb region genes, wzz and wbfP, as being essential for the biosynthesis of capsule but not O-antigen.
Copyright 2001 Academic Press.