Relaxed acyl chain specificity of Bordetella UDP-N-acetylglucosamine acyltransferases

Charles R. Sweet, Andrew Preston, Elinor Toland, Suzanne M. Ramirez, Robert J. Cotter, Duncan J. Maskell, Christian R.H. Raetz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Lipid A (endotoxin) is a major structural component of Gram-negative outer membranes. It also serves as the hydrophobic anchor of lipopolysaccharide and is a potent activator of the innate immune response. Lipid A molecules from the genus Bordetella are reported to exhibit unusual structural asymmetry with respect to the acyl chains at the 3- and 3'-positions. These acyl chains are attached by UDP-N-acetylglucosamine acyl-transferase (LpxA). To determine the origin of the acyl variability, the single lpxA ortholog present in each of the genomes of Bordetella bronchiseptica (lpxABr), Bordetella parapertussis (lpxAPe) and Bordetella pertussis (lpxAPe) was cloned and expressed in Escherichia coli. In contrast to all LpxA proteins studied to date, LpxABr and LpxAPe display relaxed acyl chain length specificity in vitro, utilizing C10OH-ACP, C12OH-ACP, and C14OH-ACP at similar rates. Furthermore, hybrid lipid A molecules synthesized at 42 °C by an E. coli lpxA mutant complemented with lpxAPe contain C10OH, C12OH and C14OH at both the 3- and 3′-positions, as determined by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry. In contrast, LpxA from B. parapertussis did not display relaxed specificity but was selective for C10OH-ACP. This study provides an enzymatic explanation for some of the unusual acyl chain variations found in Bordetella lipid A.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18281-18290
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number21
StatePublished - May 24 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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