The Biosynthesis and Biological Role of Lipopolysaccharide O-antigens of Pathogenic Yersiniae

Carbohydr Res. 2003 Nov 14;338(23):2521-9. doi: 10.1016/s0008-6215(03)00305-7.


Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) is the major component of the outer leaflet of the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria. The LPS molecule is composed of two biosynthetic entities: the lipid A--core and the O-polysaccharide (O-antigen). Most biological effects of LPS are due to the lipid A part, however, there is an increasing body of evidence indicating that O-antigen (O-ag) plays an important role in effective colonization of host tissues, resistance to complement-mediated killing and in the resistance to cationic antimicrobial peptides that are key elements of the innate immune system. In this review, we will discuss: (i) the work done on the genetics and biosynthesis of the O-ags in the genus Yersinia; (ii) the role of O-ag in virulence of these bacteria; (iii) the work done on regulation of the O-ag gene cluster expression and; (iv) the impact that the O-ag expression has on other bacterial surface and membrane components.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / metabolism
  • Lipid A / chemistry
  • Lipopolysaccharides / biosynthesis*
  • Lipopolysaccharides / chemistry
  • Lipopolysaccharides / metabolism
  • Multigene Family
  • O Antigens / biosynthesis*
  • O Antigens / physiology
  • Peptides / chemistry
  • Polysaccharides, Bacterial / biosynthesis
  • Polysaccharides, Bacterial / chemistry*
  • Species Specificity
  • Temperature
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Virulence
  • Yersinia / metabolism*
  • Yersinia enterocolitica / metabolism
  • Yersinia pestis / metabolism
  • Yersinia pseudotuberculosis / metabolism


  • Lipid A
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • O Antigens
  • Peptides
  • Polysaccharides, Bacterial