The exopolysaccharide slime colanic acid has been isolated from representative strains of Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhimurium and Aerobacter cloacae. Analysis showed that each polymer contained glucose, galactose, fucose and glucuronic acid, together with acetate and pyruvate. The molar proportions of these components were 1:1·8:1·9:1:1:1 approximately. On the basis of periodate oxidation of the natural and deacetylated polysaccharide, glucose is proposed as the site of the acetyl groups. The pyruvate is attached to galactose. Three neutral oligosaccharides and ten electrophoretically mobile oligosaccharides were isolated and partially characterized. Four of the fragments were esters of pyruvic acid. Most oligosaccharides were isolated from all three polysaccharide preparations. Three further oligosaccharides were isolated from carboxyl-reduced colanic acid and sodium borotritide was used to label the glucose derived from glucuronic acid in these fragments. One trisaccharide was obtained from periodate-oxidized polysaccharide. On the basis of these oligosaccharides a repeating hexasaccharide unit of the following structure is proposed: [Formula: see text] The significance of this structure in colanic acid biosynthesis is discussed.
- © 1969 The Biochemical Society