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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

The Structure of the Major Cell Wall Polysaccharide of Bacillus anthracis Is Species-specific.

In this report we describe the structure of the polysaccharide released from Bacillus anthracis vegetative cell walls by aqueous hydrogen fluoride (HF). This HF-released polysaccharide (HF-PS) was isolated and structurally characterized from the Ames, Sterne, and Pasteur strains of B. anthracis. The HF-PSs were also isolated from the closely related Bacillus cereus ATCC 10987 strain, and from the B. cereus ATCC 14579 type strain and compared with those of B. anthracis. The structure of the B. anthracis HF-PS was determined by glycosyl composition and linkage analyses, matrix-assisted laser desorption-time of flight mass spectrometry, and one- and two-dimensional nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. The HF-PSs from all of the B. anthracis isolates had an identical structure consisting of an amino sugar backbone of -->6)-alpha-GlcNAc-(1-->4)-beta-ManNAc-(1-->4)-beta-GlcNAc-(1-->, in which the alpha-GlcNAc residue is substituted with alpha-Gal and beta-Gal at O-3 and O-4, respectively, and the beta-GlcNAc substituted with alpha-Gal at O-3. There is some variability in the presence of two of these three Gal substitutions. Comparison with the HF-PSs from B. cereus ATCC 10987 and B. cereus ATCC 14579 showed that the B. anthracis structure was clearly different from each of these HF-PSs and, furthermore, that the B. cereus ATCC 10987 HF-PS structure was different from that of B. cereus ATCC 14579. The presence of a B. anthracis-specific polysaccharide structure in its vegetative cell wall is discussed with regard to its relationship to those of other Bacillus species.[1]


  1. The Structure of the Major Cell Wall Polysaccharide of Bacillus anthracis Is Species-specific. Choudhury, B., Leoff, C., Saile, E., Wilkins, P., Quinn, C.P., Kannenberg, E.L., Carlson, R.W. J. Biol. Chem. (2006) [Pubmed]
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