Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 21030536
Glycobiology 2011 Jan;21(1):109-21
The O-antigen (O-Ag), the polysaccharide part of the lipopolysaccharide, is the major target of the serotype-specific protective humoral response elicited upon host infection by Shigella flexneri, the main causal agent of the endemic form of bacillary dysentery. The O-Ag repeat units (RUs) of 12 S. flexneri serotypes share the tetrasaccharide backbone →2)-α-l-Rhap-(1 → 2)-α-l-Rhap-(1 → 3)-α-l-Rhap-(1 → 3)-β-d-GlcpNAc-(1→, with site-selective glucosylation(s) and/or O-acetylation defining the serotypes. To investigate the conformational basis of serotype specificity, we sampled conformational behaviors during 60 ns of molecular dynamic simulations for oligosaccharides representing three RUs of each one of the O-Ags corresponding to serotypes 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, X and Y, respectively. The calculated trajectories were checked by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) for 1a, 2a, 3a and 5a O-Ags. The simulations predict that in all O-Ags, but 1a and 1b, serotype-specific substitutions of the backbone do not induce any new backbone conformations compared with the linear type O-Ag Y, although they restrain locally the accessible conformational space. Moreover, the influence of any given substituent on the backbone is independent of the eventual presence of other substituents. Finally, only slight differences in conformational behavior between terminal and inner RUs were observed. These results suggest that the reported serotype-specificity of the protective immune response is not due to recognition of distinct backbone conformations, but to binding of the serotype-defining substituents in the O-Ag context. The gained knowledge is discussed in terms of impact on the development of a broad-serotype coverage vaccine.