UMMS Affiliation

Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology

Publication Date


Document Type



Amino Acid Sequence; Complement Factor H; Female; Humans; Immune Sera; Lipopolysaccharides; Male; Molecular Sequence Data; Mutation; N-Acetylneuraminic Acid; Neisseria gonorrhoeae; Oligosaccharides; Protein Binding; Sequence Homology, Amino Acid; Sialyltransferases


Immunology and Infectious Disease


We isolated serologically identical (by serovar determination and porin variable region [VR] typing) strains of Neisseria gonorrhoeae from an infected male and two of his monogamous female sex partners. One strain (termed 398078) expressed the L1 (Galalpha1 --> 4 [corrected] Galbeta1 --> 4Glcbeta1 --> 4HepI) lipooligosaccharide (LOS) structure exclusively; the other (termed 398079) expressed the lacto-N-neotetraose (LNT; Galbeta1 --> 4GlcNAcbeta1 --> 3Galbeta1 --> 4Glcbeta1 --> 4HepI) LOS structure. The strain from the male index case expressed both glycoforms and exhibited both immunotypes. Nuclear magnetic resonance analysis revealed that sialic acid linked to the terminal Gal of L1 LOS via an alpha2 --> 6 linkage and, as expected, to the terminal Gal of LNT LOS via an alpha2--> 3 linkage. Insertional inactivation of the sialyltransferase gene (known to sialylate LNT LOS) abrogated both L1 LOS sialylation and LNT LOS sialylation, suggesting a bifunctional nature of this enzyme in gonococci. Akin to our previous observations, sialylation of the LNT LOS of strain 398079 enhanced the binding of the complement regulatory molecule, factor H. Rather surprisingly, factor H did not bind to sialylated strain 398078. LOS sialylation conferred the LNT LOS-bearing strain complete (100%) resistance to killing by even 50% nonimmune normal human serum (NHS), whereas sialylation of L1 LOS conferred resistance only to 10% NHS. The ability of gonococcal sialylated LNT to bind factor H confers high-level serum resistance, which is not seen with sialylated L1 LOS. Thus, serum resistance mediated by sialylation of gonococcal L1 and LNT LOS occurs by different mechanisms, and specificity of factor H binding to sialylated gonococci is restricted to the LNT LOS species.

DOI of Published Version



Infect Immun. 2005 Nov;73(11):7390-7. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Infection and immunity

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID




To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.