The highly antigenic glycopeptidolipids present on the surface of members of the Mycobacterium avium complex serve to distinguish these bacteria from all others and to define the various serovars that compose this complex. Previously, the genes responsible for the biosynthesis of the disaccharide hapten [2,3-di-O-methyl-α-L-fucopyranosyl-(1→3)-α-L-rhamnopyranose] of serovar 2 of the M. avium complex were isolated, localized to a contiguous 22- to 27-kb fragment of the M. avium genome, and designated the ser2 gene cluster (J. T. Belisle, L. Pascopella, J. M. Inamine, P. J. Brennan, and W. R. Jacobs, Jr., J. Bacteriol. 173:6991-6997, 1991). In the present study, transposon saturation mutagenesis was used to map the specific genetic loci within the ser2 gene cluster required for expression of this disaccharide. Four essential loci, termed ser2A, -B, -C, and -D, constituting a total of 5.7 kb within the ser2 gene cluster, were defined. The ser2B and ser2D loci encode the methyltransferases required to methylate the fucose at the 3 and 2 positions, respectively. The rhamnosyltransferase was encoded by ser2A, whereas either ser2C or ser2D encoded the fucosyltransferase. The ser2C and ser2D loci are also apparently involved in the de novo synthesis of fucose. Isolation of the truncated versions of the hapten induced by the transposon insertions provides genetic evidence that the glycopeptidolipids of M. avium serovar 2 are synthesized by an initial transfer of the rhamnose unit to the peptide core followed by fucose and finally O methylation of the fucosyl unit.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology