Identification of the Shigella flexneri Wzy Domain Modulating WzzpHS-2 Interaction and Detection of the Wzy/Wzz/Oag Complex

Alice Ascari, Elizabeth Ngoc Hoa Tran, Bart A. Eijkelkamp, Renato Morona

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Shigella flexneri implements the Wzy-dependent pathway to biosynthesize the O antigen (Oag) component of its surface lipopolysaccharide. The inner membrane polymerase WzySF catalyzes the repeat addition of undecaprenol-diphosphate-linked Oag (Und-PP-RUs) to produce a polysaccharide, the length of which is tightly regulated by two competing copolymerase proteins, WzzSF (short-type Oag; 10 to 17 RUs) and WzzpHS-2 (very-long-type Oag; .90 RUs). The nature of the interaction between WzySF and WzzSF/ WzzpHS-2 in Oag polymerization remains poorly characterized, with the majority of the literature characterizing the individual protein constituents of the Wzy-dependent pathway. Here, we report instead a major investigation into the specific binding interactions of WzySF with its copolymerase counterparts. For the first time, a region of WzySF that forms a unique binding site for WzzpHS-2 has been identified. Specifically, this work has elucidated key WzySF moieties at the N- and C-terminal domains (NTD and CTD) that form an intramolecular pocket modulating the WzzpHS-2 interaction. Novel copurification data highlight that disruption of residues within this NTD-CTD pocket impairs the interaction with WzzpHS-2 without affecting WzzSF binding, thereby specifically disrupting polymerization of longer polysaccharide chains. This study provides a novel understanding of the molecular interaction of WzySF with WzzSF/WzzpHS-2 in the Wzy-dependent pathway and, furthermore, detects the Wzy/Wzz/Und-PP-Oag complex for the first time. Beyond S. flexneri, this work may be extended to provide insight into the interactions between protein homologues expressed by related species, especially members of Enterobacteriaceae, that produce dual Oag chain length determinants.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0022422
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of bacteriology
Issue number9
Early online date18 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022


  • lipopolysaccharide
  • O antigen copolymerase
  • O antigen polymerase
  • Shigella flexneri
  • undecaprenol
  • Wzy
  • Wzz


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