A Typical Preparation of Francisella Tularensis O-antigen Yields a Mixture of Three Types of Saccharides

Biochemistry. 2011 Dec 20;50(50):10941-50. doi: 10.1021/bi201450v. Epub 2011 Nov 28.


Tularemia is a severe infectious disease in humans caused by the Gram-negative bacterium Francisella tularensis (Ft). Because of its low infectious dose, high mortality rate, and the threat of its large-scale dissemination in weaponized form, development of vaccines and immunotherapeutics against Ft is essential. Ft lipopolysaccharide (LPS), which contains the linear graded-length saccharide component O-antigen (OAg) attached to a core oligosaccharide, has been reported as a protective antigen. Purification of LPS saccharides of defined length and composition is necessary to reveal the epitopes targeted by protective antibodies. In this study, we purified saccharides from LPS preparations from both the Ft subspecies holarctica live vaccine strain (LVS) and the virulent Ft subspecies tularensis SchuS4 strain using liquid chromatography. We then characterized the fractions using high-resolution mass spectrometry and tandem mass spectrometry. Three types of saccharides were observed in both the LVS and SchuS4 preparations: two consisting of OAg tetrasaccharide repeats attached to one of two core oligosaccharide variants and one consisting of tetrasaccharide repeats only (coreless). The coreless OAg oligosaccharides were shown to contain Qui4NFm (4,6-dideoxy-4-formamido-D-glucose) at the nonreducing end and QuiNAc (2-acetamido-2,6-dideoxy-O-D-glucose) at the reducing end. Purified homogeneous preparations of saccharides of each type will allow mapping of protective epitopes in Ft LPS.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Acetylglucosamine / analogs & derivatives
  • Acetylglucosamine / analysis
  • Acetylglucosamine / chemistry
  • Carbohydrates / analysis*
  • Carbohydrates / chemistry
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Epitopes / chemistry
  • Francisella / immunology
  • Francisella / metabolism
  • Francisella / pathogenicity
  • Francisella tularensis / immunology
  • Francisella tularensis / metabolism*
  • Francisella tularensis / pathogenicity
  • Glucosamine / analogs & derivatives
  • Glucosamine / analysis
  • Glucosamine / chemistry
  • Hexuronic Acids / analysis
  • Hexuronic Acids / chemistry
  • O Antigens / chemistry*
  • O Antigens / isolation & purification*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Species Specificity
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry


  • Carbohydrates
  • Epitopes
  • Hexuronic Acids
  • O Antigens
  • 2-acetamido-2,6-dideoxyglucose
  • 2-acetamido-2-deoxygalacturonamide
  • Glucosamine
  • Acetylglucosamine