Abstract

The lipopolysaccharide (LPS) of Haemophilus influenzae expresses a number of core oligosaccharide epitopes on its outer surface. The expression of individual epitopes is subject to frequent (approximately 1% bacteria/generation) reversible phase variation, as determined by colony immunoblots. We have used a microtechnique for the extraction of LPS from individual colonies, whose LPS antigenic phenotype has been identified, so that the LPS can be studied by tricine sodium dodecylsulphate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (T-SDS-PAGE). This avoids the introduction of heterogenous phase-varying LPS which is inevitable if bacteria from colonies are grown in broth culture prior to LPS extraction and analysis. Using these techniques we have investigated the repertoire of LPS phase variation exhibited by H. influenzae strain RM7004 (a serotype b meningitis isolate). This technique will facilitate the study of bacteria in which there is variable LPS expression.

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