The immunologically distinct O antigens from Francisella tularensis subspecies tularensis and Francisella novicida are both virulence determinants and protective antigens
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We have determined the sequence of the gene cluster encoding the O antigen in Francisella novicida and compared it to the previously reported O-antigen cluster in Francisella tularensis subsp. tularensis. Immunization with purified lipopolysaccharide (LPS) from F. tularensis subsp. tularensis or F. novicida protected against challenge with Francisella tularensis subsp. holarctica and F. novicida, respectively. The LPS from F. tularensis subsp. tularensis did not confer protection against challenge with F. novicida, and the LPS from F. novicida did not confer protection against challenge with F. tularensis subsp. holarctica. Allelic replacement mutants of F. tularensis subsp. tularensis or F. novicida which failed to produce O antigen were attenuated, but exposure to these mutants did not induce a protective immune response. The O antigen of F. tularensis subsp. tularensis appeared to be important for intracellular survival whereas the O antigen of F. novicida appeared to be critical for serum resistance and less important for intracellular survival.
Infection and immunity
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