BACKGROUND Campylobacter jejuni is a major bacterial cause of food-borne enteritis, and its lipooligosaccharide (LOS) plays an initiating role in the development of the autoimmune neuropathy, Guillain-Barré syndrome, by induction of anti-neural cross-reactive antibodies through ganglioside molecular mimicry. RESULTS Herein we describe the existence and heterogeneity of multiple LOS forms in C. jejuni strains of human and chicken origin grown at 37 °C and 42 °C, respectively, as determined on sodium dodecyl sulphate-polyacrylamide electrophoresis gels with carbohydrate-specific silver staining and blotting with anti-ganglioside ligands, and confirmed by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. The C. jejuni NCTC 11168 original isolate (11168-O) was compared to its genome-sequenced variant (11168-GS), and both were found to have a lower-M(r) LOS form, which was different in size and structure to the previously characterized higher-M(r) form bearing GM₁ mimicry. The lower-M(r) form production was found to be dependent on the growth temperature as the production of this form increased from ~5%, observed at 37 °C to ~35% at 42 °C. The structure of the lower-M(r) form contained a β-D-Gal-(1→3)-β-D-GalNAc disaccharide moiety which is consistent with the termini of the GM₁, asialo-GM₁, GD₁, GT₁ and GQ₁ gangliosides, however, it did not display GM₁ mimicry as assessed in blotting studies but was shown in NMR to resemble asialo-GM₁. The production of multiple LOS forms and lack of GM1 mimicry was not a result of phase variation in the genes tested of NCTC 11168 and was also observed in most of the human and chicken isolates of C. jejuni tested. CONCLUSION The presence of differing amounts of LOS forms at 37 and 42 °C, and the variety of forms observed in different strains, indicate that LOS form variation may play a role in an adaptive mechanism or a stress response of the bacterium during the colonization of different hosts.
Semchenko, E. A., Day, C. J., Wilson, J. C., Grice, I. D., & Korolik, V. (2010). Temperature-dependent phenotypic variation of Campylobacter jejuni lipooligosaccharides. BMC Microbiology, 10. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2180-10-305