Characteristic cellular fatty acid composition and an ornithine-containing lipid as a new type of hemagglutinin in Bordetella pertussis

Dev Biol Stand. 1985:61:249-54.


The fatty acid composition of the total extractable cellular lipids of Bordetella pertussis was very characteristic and was mostly hexadecenoic and hexadecanoic acids (90%) in a ratio of about 1:1. The fatty acid composition of Bordetella parapertussis and Bordetella bronchiseptica differed from that of B. pertussis. The two species were distinguished by the fatty acid composition of cell-bound lipids. The ornithine-containing lipid was characteristic of the genus Bordetella and its main structure was 3-hydroxyhexadecanoic acid amide-linked to ornithine and esterified to the second hexadecanoic acid. The lipid agglutinated human and some animal erythrocytes. The lipid is a new type of hemagglutinin and we proposed that hemagglutination occurred mainly by the hydrophobic interaction between the lipid moiety of the ornithine-containing lipid and phosphatidylcholine in the cell membrane of the erythrocytes. A relatively high content of ornithine-containing lipid was also found in opportunistic pathogens such as Flavobacterium meningosepticum which causes meningitis in babies and children. As the pathogenicity of the opportunistic pathogens is unclear, the ornithine-containing lipid may have an important role in pathogenicity.

MeSH terms

  • Bordetella pertussis / analysis*
  • Fatty Acids / analysis*
  • Hemagglutination Tests
  • Hemagglutinins / analysis*
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Lipids / analysis
  • Ornithine / analysis
  • Palmitic Acids / analysis


  • Fatty Acids
  • Hemagglutinins
  • Lipids
  • Palmitic Acids
  • Ornithine