Mutants of PAC1R (serotype O:3) which were resistant to bacteriophage D were isolated and shown to react with O:5d, O:9 and O:13 antisera as well as O:3. Antisera to the parent strain and to the three polyagglutinating (PA) mutants also showed cross-reactions. The mutants differed from the parent strain in their lipopolysaccharide (LPS) composition. The LPS from two of the three mutants yielded high molecular weight polysaccharide fractions. Although the high molecular weight fraction from one of the mutants contained the amino sugars and other components characteristic of the O:3 serotype strains, its mobility on Sephadex G75 was different from that of the parent strain. The high molecular weight material from the second mutant lacked the O-antigenic determinants but these were present in a semi-rough LPS fraction. The third mutant appeared rough and completely lacked the O-antigenic components. These three mutants were compared with the parent strain and with a non-agglutinating LPS-defective mutant which lacked both O-antigenic side chains and all neutral sugars in the outer core. Agglutination with absorbed sera and haemagglutination using purified LPS and ELISA detection suggested that wall components other than LPS were responsible for some of the cross-reactions observed. The components responsible were detected after SDS-PAGE of crude outer membrane fractions by a combination of Coomassie blue and silver-staining and antigenic components were detected by immunoelectrophoresis and ELISA-linked immunoblotting of the gels. The main antigenic determinants detected by antiserum to the parent strain were in the high molecular weight O-polysaccharide fractions and in the semi-rough fractions of the LPS, with some activity due to the H protein of the outer membrane. O:5d antisera reacted with unidentified high molecular weight polysaccharide fractions. Cross-reactions with the O:9 antiserum appeared to be due mainly to the F porin and, to a lesser extent, to the G and E proteins of the outer membrane. O:13 antiserum reacted with high molecular weight polysaccharide fractions but also with the rough core and F and H protein. Cross-reactivity of the other three mutant antisera could largely be interpreted in terms of the outer membrane components exposed in each strain. One reacted strongly with the F porin and the rough core, while the others reacted with a number of protein and LPS-derived fractions. It is suggested that, in these PA mutants, changes in LPS composition modify their O-antigenicity and also expose other outer membrane components to varying extents. It is these protein and rough core components which are responsible for the cross-reactivity with heterologous O-antisera.


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