Polymorphisms in Pilin Glycosylation Locus of Neisseria meningitidis Expressing Class II Pili

Charlene Kahler, L.E. Martin, Y. Tzeng, Y. Miller, K. Sharkey, D.S. Stephens, J.K. Davies

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56 Citations (Scopus)


We have located a locus, pgl, in Neisseria meningitidis strain NMB required for the glycosylation of class II pili. Between five and eight open reading frames (ORFs) (pglF, pglB, pglC, pglB2, orf2, orf3, orf8, and avtA) were present in the pgl clusters of different meningococcal isolates. The Class I pilus-expressing strains Neisseria gonorrhoeae MS11 and N. meningitidis MC58 each contain a pgl cluster in which orf2 and orf3 have been deleted. Strain NMB and other meningococcal isolates which express class II type IV pill contained pgl clusters in which pglB had been replaced by pglB2 and an additional novel ORF, orf8, had been inserted between pglB2 and pglC. Insertional inactivation of the eight ORFs of the pgl cluster of strain NMB showed that pgl2F, pglB2, pglC, and pglD, but not orf2, orf3, orf8, and avtA, were necessary for pilin glycosylation. Pilin glycosylation was not essential for resistance to normal human serum, as pglF and pglD mutants retained wild-type levels of serum resistance. Although pglB2 and pglC mutants were significantly sensitive to normal human serum under the experimental conditions used, subsequent examination of the encapsulation phenotypes revealed that pglB2 and pglC mutants expressed almost 50% less capsule than wild-type NMB. A mutation in orf3, which did not affect pilin glycosylation, also resulted in a 10% reduction in capsule expression and a moderately serum sensitive phenotype. On the basis of these results we suggest that pilin glycosylation may proceed via a lipid-linked oligosaccharide intermediate and that blockages in this pathway may interfere with capsular transport or assembly.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3597-3604
JournalInfection and Immunity
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2001


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