Identification of the structural gene for the TDP-Fuc4NAc:lipid II Fuc4NAc transferase involved in synthesis of enterobacterial common antigen in Escherichia coli K-12

J Bacteriol. 2001 Nov;183(22):6509-16. doi: 10.1128/JB.183.22.6509-6516.2001.


The polysaccharide chains of enterobacterial common antigen (ECA) are comprised of the trisaccharide repeat unit Fuc4NAc-ManNAcA-GlcNAc, where Fuc4NAc is 4-acetamido-4,6-dideoxy-D-galactose, ManNAcA is N-acetyl-D-mannosaminuronic acid, and GlcNAc is N-acetyl-D-glucosamine. Individual trisaccharide repeat units are assembled as undecaprenyl-linked intermediates in a sequence of reactions that culminate in the transfer of Fuc4NAc from TDP-Fuc4NAc to ManNAcA-GlcNAc-pyrophosphorylundecaprenol (lipid II) to yield Fuc4NAc-ManNAcA-GlcNAc-pyrophosphorylundecaprenol (lipid III), the donor of trisaccharide repeat units for ECA polysaccharide chain elongation. Most of the genes known to be involved in ECA assembly are located in the wec gene cluster located at ca. 85.4 min on the Escherichia coli chromosome. The available data suggest that the structural gene for the TDP-Fuc4NAc:lipid II Fuc4NAc transferase also resides in the wec gene cluster; however, the location of this gene has not been unequivocally defined. Previous characterization of the nucleotide sequence of the wec gene cluster in the region between o416 and wecG revealed that it contained three open reading frames: o74, o204, and o450. In contrast, the results of experiments described in the current investigation revealed that it contains only two open reading frames, o359 and o450. Mutants of E. coli possessing null mutations in o359 were unable to synthesize ECA, and they accumulated lipid II. In addition, the in vitro incorporation of [(3)H]FucNAc from TDP-[(3)H]Fuc4NAc into lipid II was not observed in reaction mixtures using cell extracts obtained from these mutants as a source of enzyme. The ECA-negative phenotype of these mutants was complemented by plasmid constructs containing the wild-type o359 allele, and Fuc4NAc transferase activity was demonstrated by using cell extracts obtained from the complemented mutants. Furthermore, partially purified o359 gene product, expressed as recombinant C-terminal His-tagged protein, was able to catalyze the in vitro transfer of [(3)H]Fuc4NAc from TDP-[(3)H]Fuc4NAc to lipid II. Our data support the conclusion that o359 of the wec gene cluster of E. coli is the structural gene for the TDP-Fuc4NAc:lipid II Fuc4NAc transferase involved in the synthesis ECA trisaccharide repeat units.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, Bacterial / biosynthesis*
  • Blotting, Western
  • Escherichia coli / enzymology
  • Escherichia coli / genetics*
  • Escherichia coli / immunology
  • Fucosyltransferases / genetics*
  • Genes, Bacterial*
  • Models, Chemical
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation
  • Open Reading Frames
  • Polysaccharides / biosynthesis


  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Polysaccharides
  • enterobacterial common antigen
  • Fucosyltransferases
  • TDP-Fuc4NAc - Lipid II Fuc4NAc transferase

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AF375882