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Burkholderia pseudomallei is an environmental bacterium that causes melioidosis, a major community-acquired infection in tropical regions. Melioidosis presents with a range of clinical symptoms, is often characterized by a robust inflammatory response, may relapse after treatment, and results in high mortality rates. Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) of B. pseudomallei is a potent immunostimulatory molecule comprised of lipid A, core, and O-polysaccharide (OPS) components. Four B. pseudomallei LPS types have been described based on SDS-PAGE patterns that represent the difference of OPS-type A, type B, type B2 and rough LPS. The majority of B. pseudomallei isolates are type A. We used matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) followed by electrospray ionization quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry (ESI-QqTOF MS) and gas chromatography to characterize the lipid A of B. pseudomallei within LPS type A isolates. We determined that B. pseudomallei lipid A is represented by penta- and tetra-acylated species modified with 4-amino-4-deoxy-arabinose (Ara4N). The MALDI-TOF profiles from 171 clinical B. pseudomallei isolates, including 68 paired primary and relapse isolates and 35 within-host isolates were similar. We did not observe lipid A structural changes when the bacteria were cultured in different growth conditions. Dose-dependent NF-κB activation in HEK cells expressing TLR4 was observed using multiple heat-killed B. pseudomallei isolates and corresponding purified LPS. We demonstrated that TLR4-dependent NF-κB activation induced by heat-killed bacteria or LPS prepared from OPS deficient mutant was significantly greater than those induced by wild type B. pseudomallei. These findings suggest that the structure of B. pseudomallei lipid A is highly conserved in a wide variety of clinical and environmental circumstances but that the presence of OPS may modulate LPS-driven innate immune responses in melioidosis.

Original publication




Journal article


Plos neglected tropical diseases

Publication Date





Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand.


Humans, Burkholderia pseudomallei, Melioidosis, Amino Sugars, Lipopolysaccharides, Lipid A, NF-kappa B, Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization, Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization, Signal Transduction, Toll-Like Receptor 4, Immunity, Innate, HEK293 Cells