A novel mechanism for glucose side-chain formation in rhamnose-glucose polysaccharide synthesis

FEBS Lett. 2002 Dec 4;532(1-2):159-63. doi: 10.1016/s0014-5793(02)03661-x.


We have cloned two genes (rgpH and rgpI) that encode proteins for the formation of the glucose side-chains of the Streptococcus mutans rhamnose-glucose polysaccharide (RGP), which consists of a rhamnan backbone with glucose side-chains. The roles of rgpH and rgpI were evaluated in a rhamnan-synthesizing Escherichia coli. An E. coli strain that harbored rgpH reacted with antiserum directed against complete RGP, whereas the E. coli strain that carried rgpI did not react with this antiserum. Although E. coli:rgpH reacted strongly with rhamnan-specific antiserum, co-transformation of this strain with rgpI increased the number of glucose side-chains and decreased immunoreactivity with the rhamnan-specific antiserum significantly. These results suggest that two genes are involved in side-chain formation during S. mutans RGP synthesis in E. coli: one gene encodes a glucosyltransferase, and the other gene probably controls the frequency of branching. This is the first report to identify a gene that is involved in regulation of branching frequency in polysaccharide synthesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Escherichia coli / metabolism
  • Genes, Bacterial*
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Glucosyltransferases / genetics
  • Glucosyltransferases / metabolism
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutagenesis, Insertional
  • Polysaccharides / biosynthesis*
  • Polysaccharides / immunology
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Rhamnose / metabolism*
  • Streptococcus mutans / genetics
  • Streptococcus mutans / metabolism*
  • Transformation, Bacterial


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Polysaccharides
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Glucosyltransferases
  • Glucose
  • Rhamnose

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AB091254