Genetic organization and sequence of the rfb gene cluster of Yersinia enterocolitica serotype O:3: similarities to the dTDP-L-rhamnose biosynthesis pathway of Salmonella and to the bacterial polysaccharide transport systems

Mol Microbiol. 1993 Jul;9(2):309-21. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.1993.tb01692.x.


The Yersinia enterocolitica O:3 lipopolysaccharide O-antigen is a homopolymer of 6-deoxy-L-altrose. The cloned rfb region was sequenced, and 10 open reading frames were identified. Transposon mutagenesis, deletion analysis and transcomplementation experiments showed that eight of the genes, organized into two operons, rfbABC and rfbDEFGH, are essential for O-antigen synthesis. Functional tandem promoters were identified upstream of both operons. Of the deduced polypeptides RfbA, RfbF and RfbG were similar to Salmonella proteins involved in the dTDP-L-rhamnose biosynthesis. Rhamnose and 6-deoxy-L-altrose are C3-epimers suggesting that analogous pathways function in their biosynthesis. RfbD and RfbE were similar to capsular polysaccharide export proteins, e.g. KpsM and KpsT of Escherichia coli. This and transposon mutagenesis showed that RfbD and RfbE function as O-antigen exporters.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics*
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Base Sequence
  • Deoxy Sugars / biosynthesis*
  • Deoxy Sugars / immunology
  • Genes, Bacterial*
  • Haemophilus influenzae / genetics
  • Hexoses / biosynthesis*
  • Hexoses / immunology
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Multigene Family
  • Mutagenesis, Insertional
  • Neisseria meningitidis / genetics
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics*
  • Nucleoside Diphosphate Sugars / biosynthesis
  • O Antigens
  • Operon
  • Polysaccharides, Bacterial / biosynthesis*
  • Polysaccharides, Bacterial / immunology
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Salmonella / genetics*
  • Salmonella typhimurium / genetics
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Species Specificity
  • Thymine Nucleotides / biosynthesis
  • Yersinia enterocolitica / classification
  • Yersinia enterocolitica / genetics*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Deoxy Sugars
  • Hexoses
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Nucleoside Diphosphate Sugars
  • O Antigens
  • Polysaccharides, Bacterial
  • Thymine Nucleotides
  • 6-deoxyaltrose
  • thymidine diphosphate rhamnose