Serological and genetic diversity of capsular polysaccharides in Enterococcus faecalis

J Clin Microbiol. 2004 Jun;42(6):2548-57. doi: 10.1128/JCM.42.6.2548-2557.2004.


Enterococci possess capsular carbohydrate antigens that are targets of opsonic antibodies. These antigens may be used to develop alternative options for the treatment and prevention of enterococcal infections. The present study was done to analyze the diversity of capsular polysaccharides in Enterococcus faecalis. Four type-specific sera were used in an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay format to detect polysaccharide antigen extracted from bacterial cell walls. A total of 55% of a collection of 29 E. faecalis strains could be grouped into one of four serogroups. Additional analysis of the strains by opsonophagocytic assays revealed agreement between the results of the two methods for 72% of the isolates. An additional four strains could be assigned to a serogroup on the basis of opsonic killing by sera with antibodies against the four prototypes strains, provisionally named CPS-A to CPS-D. The results of the two methods disagreed for one strain (4%). When the results of both methods were combined, 66% of the strains could be classified. One strain had to be assigned to two serogroups. The assignments to the four serogroups were confirmed by analysis of the genetic organization of the biosynthetic capsular polysaccharide (cps) locus. All strains grouped into serotypes CPS-A and CPS-B possessed only the cpsA and cpsB genes, while all strains grouped into serogroups CPS-C and CPS-D possessed an additional eight or nine genes. Our results suggest the existence of a limited number of E. faecalis capsule serotypes, and we provisionally propose four serotypes, named CPS-A to CPS-D, and the respective prototype strains for these families.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Capsules / genetics
  • Bacterial Capsules / immunology*
  • Enterococcus faecalis / genetics
  • Enterococcus faecalis / immunology*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Genetic Variation
  • Humans
  • Immune Sera / immunology
  • Phagocytosis
  • Polymorphism, Restriction Fragment Length
  • Rabbits


  • Immune Sera