The Vi capsular polysaccharide (CPS) of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi, the cause of human typhoid, is important for infectivity and virulence. The Vi biosynthetic machinery is encoded within the viaB locus composed of 10 genes involved in regulation of expression (tviA), polymer synthesis (tviB-tviE), and cell surface localization of the CPS (vexA-vexE). We cloned the viaB locus from S. Typhi and transposon insertion mutants of individual viaB genes were characterized in Escherichia coli DH5α. Phenotype analysis of viaB mutants revealed that tviB, tviC, tviD and tviE are involved in Vi polymer synthesis. Furthermore, expression of tviB-tviE in E. coli DH5α directed the synthesis of cytoplasmic Vi antigen. Mutants of the ABC transporter genes vexBC and the polysaccharide copolymerase gene vexD accumulated the Vi polymer within the cytoplasm and productivity in these mutants was greatly reduced. In contrast, de novo synthesis of Vi polymer in the export deficient vexA mutant was comparable to wild-type cells, with drastic effects on cell stability. VexE mutant cells exported the Vi, but the CPS was not retained at the cell surface. The secreted polymer of a vexE mutant had different physical characteristics compared to the wild-type Vi.

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Published in PLoS ONE, v. 7, no. 9, e45609.

© Wetter et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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