Characterization of the Escherichia coli O59 and O155 O-antigen gene clusters: The atypical wzx genes are evolutionary related

Hongjie Guo, Qingke Kong, Jiansong Cheng, Lei Wang, Lu Feng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


O-antigens are highly polymorphic. The genes specifically involved in O-antigen synthesis are generally grouped together on the chromosome as a gene cluster. In Escherichia coli, the O-antigen gene clusters are characteristically located between the housekeeping genes galF and gnd. In this study, the O-antigen gene clusters of E. coli O59 and E. coli O155 were sequenced. The former was found to contain genes for GDP-mannose synthesis, glycosyltransferase genes and the O-antigen polymerase gene (wzy), while the latter contained only glycosyltransferase genes and wzy. O unit flippase genes (wzx) were found immediately downstream of the gnd gene, in the region between the gnd and hisI genes in these two strains. This atypical location of wzx has not been reported before, and furthermore these two genes complemented in trans despite the fact that different O-antigen structures are present in E. coli O59 and O155. A putative acetyltransferase gene was found downstream of wzx in both strains. Comparison of the region between gnd and hisI revealed that the wzx and acetyltransferase genes are closely related between E. coli O59 and O155, indicating that the two gene clusters arose recently from a common ancestor. This work provides further evidence for the O-antigen gene cluster having formed gradually, and selection pressure will eventually bring O-antigen genes into a single cluster. Genes specific for E. coli O59 and O155, respectively, were also identified.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-161
Number of pages9
JournalFEMS Microbiology Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 15 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Escherichia coli serotypes O59 and O155
  • O-antigen flippase
  • Specific genes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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