Lipopolysaccharides mediate leukotoxin secretion in Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans


Keith P. Mintz, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Room 118 Stafford Hall, University of Vermont, Burlington VT 05405, USA Tel.: +1 802 656 0712; fax: +1 802 656 8749; E-mail:


We previously reported that lipopolysaccharide (LPS) -related sugars are associated with the glycosylation of the collagen adhesin EmaA, a virulence determinant of Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans. In this study, the role of LPS in the secretion of other virulence factors was investigated. The secretion of the epithelial adhesin Aae, the immunoglobulin Fc receptor Omp34 and leukotoxin were examined in a mutant strain with inactivated TDP-4-keto-6-deoxy-d-glucose 3,5-epimerase (rmlC), which resulted in altered O-antigen polysaccharides (O-PS) of LPS. The secretion of Aae and Omp34 was not affected. However, the leukotoxin secretion, which is mediated by the TolC-dependent type I secretion system, was altered in the rmlC mutant. The amount of secreted leukotoxin in the bacterial growth medium was reduced nine-fold, with a concurrent four-fold increase of the membrane-bound toxin in the mutant compared with the wild-type strain. The altered leukotoxin secretion pattern was restored to the wild-type by complementation of the rmlC gene in trans. Examination of the ltxA mRNA levels indicated that the leukotoxin secretion was post-transcriptionally regulated in the modified O-PS containing strain. The mutant strain also showed increased resistance to vancomycin, an antibiotic dependent on TolC for internalization, indicating that TolC was affected. Overexpression of TolC in the rmlC mutant resulted in an increased TolC level in the outer membrane but did not restore the leukotoxin secretion profile to the wild-type phenotype. The data suggest that O-PS mediate leukotoxin secretion in A. actinomycetemcomitans.