Biology Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for biology researchers, academics, and students. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

The O antigen is synthesised by Pathology islands (PAI). O antigen may be a factor why Shigella survives the passage through host defences. I am interested in which step of pathogenesis.

There are Bacterial ATPase (actin tail, intracellular movement), M-cell (enter) ...-> extracellular movement.

Where can the O antigen affect in Shigella?

share|improve this question

The outer layer of the cell envelope of Gram negative bacteria is the outer membrane, and the outer leaflet of that membrane is composed largely of lipopolysaccharide (LPS). The O antigen is the name given to the outer glycan portion of the LPS - there is a nice diagram at the Wikipedia article I have linked to which makes this clear.

Because this structure is exposed at the bacterial surface it is a target for the immune response, and the serotyping of many bacterial species incorporates this O serotype information.

Table 1 of the review that you link to indicates that PAI SHI-O carries genes gtrA,B,V (originally derived from a bacteriophage - not unusual for a pathogenicity island). These genes encode enzymes which modify the O-antigen via a glucosylation reaction. Presumably this helps the bacteria adapt to an immune response via a shift in serotype. It may be, for example, that an invading population of Shigella includes variants which do or do not express these genes so that a subpopulation can arise which is not recognised by an existing immune response. This is what is meant in Table 1 of the article by "evasion of host immune response". It is a common strategy - examples in Salmonella (flagellar phase variation) and Helicobacter (induced transformation) spring to mind.

share|improve this answer
Do you mean by the induced transformaton of H.pylori the generation of lophotrichous flagella (mucinase) which permits intracellular movement? – Masi Feb 22 '14 at 16:49
No, I mean that under stress conditions, (such as an immune response), when cells ares dying, other cells will take up their DNA (transformation). This results in new variants arising (through recombination) some of which are able to continue the infection. – Alan Boyd Feb 22 '14 at 18:47

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.