The structures and biosynthesis of lipopolysaccharide (LPS), a major component of the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria, have been studied extensively in cultured bacteria such as Escherichia coli. In contrast, little is known about the structures and biosynthesis of the LPS of unculturable bacteria, including insect symbionts, many of which are Gram-negative bacteria. A brown-winged green bug, Plautia stali, is known to harbor a single species of gamma-proteobacterium in the posterior mid-gut caeca. To characterize the features of its LPS, we analyzed the genome sequence of the symbiont, and identified the putative genes involved in LPS synthesis. Genes involved in the synthesis of lipid A and the core oligosaccharide were found in the genome, but waaL, which encodes the O-antigen ligase, was not. Furthermore, we characterized the LPS of this symbiont using SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) and Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) stimulation assays. Consistent with the genomic analysis, the SDS-PAGE analysis suggested that the symbiont had rough-type LPS, which lacked the O-antigen. The TLR4 stimulation assay demonstrated that LPS purified from the symbionts activated NF-κB-dependent reporter expression, indicating the existence of a bioactive lipid A portion in the LPS. These results suggest that the P. stali symbiont produces rough-type LPS.
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