Lipopolysaccharide size and distribution determine serum resistance in Salmonella montevideo

N. Grossman, M. A. Schmetz, J. Foulds, E. N. Klima, V. E. Jimenez-Lucho, L. L. Leive, K. A. Joiner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


The survival of Salmonella montevideo during serum treatment depends on the presence of an O antigen (O-Ag) associated with the lipopolysaccharide molecule. In this organism, the O antigen is a polysaccharide composed of 0 to more than 55 subunits, each containing 4 mannose residues together with glucose and n-acetylglucosamine. We used a mutant strain of S. montevideo that requires exogenous mannose for the synthesis of O-Ag. Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) was prepared from these cells grown under three different conditions where the availability of exogenous mannose was regulated such that the average number of O-Ag units per LPS molecule, the percentage of LPS molecules bearing long O-Ag side chains, and the percentage of lipid A cores bearing O-Ag were all varied. These changes in LPS profiles were monitored on sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gels, and cells with different LPS profiles were tested for their ability to survive treatment with pooled normal human serum. Survival in serum was associated with LPS that contained an average of 4 to 5 O-Ag units per LPS molecule, and 20 to 23% of the LPS molecules had more than 14 O-Ag units per LPS molecule. Serum survival was less clearly associated with the percentage of lipid A cores covered with O-Ag. We propose, based on these data and on previous work, that the O-Ag polysaccharide provides the cell protection from serum killing by sterically hindering access of the C5b-9 complex to the outer membrane and that a critical density of long O-Ag polysaccharide is necessary to provide protection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)856-863
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Bacteriology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1987
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology


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