A new capsular polysaccharide (CPS) biosynthesis gene cluster, KL16, was found in the genome sequence of a clinical Acinetobacter baumannii ST25 isolate, D4. The variable part of KL16 contains a module of genes for synthesis of 5,7-diacetamido-3,5,7,9-tetradeoxy-l-glycero-l-manno-non-2-ulosonic acid (5,7-di-N-acetylpseudaminic acid, Pse5Ac7Ac), a gene encoding ItrA3 that initiates the CPS synthesis with d-GlcpNAc, and two glycosyltransferase (Gtr) genes. The K16 CPS was studied by sugar analysis and Smith degradation along with 1D and 2D 1H and 13C NMR spectroscopy, and shown to be built up of linear trisaccharide repeats containing d-galactose (d-Gal), N-acetyl-d-glucosamine (d-GlcNAc), and Pse5Ac7Ac. The d-Galp residue is linked to the d-GlcpNAc initiating sugar via a β-(1 → 3) linkage evidently formed by a Gtr5 variant, Gtr5K16, encoded in KL16. This reveals an altered or relaxed substrate specificity of this variant as the majority of Gtr5-type glycosyltransferases have previously been shown to form a β-d-Galp-(1 → 3)-d-GalpNAc linkage. The β-Psep5Ac7Ac-(2 → 4)-d-Galp linkage is predicted to be formed by the other glycosyltransferase, Gtr37, which does not match members of any known glycosyltransferase family.
Keywords: 5,7-Di-N-acetylpseudaminic acid; Acinetobacter baumannii; Capsular polysaccharide; Glycosyltransferase; KL16 K locus.
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