Purification of Capsular Polysaccharide

  • Qingling Yang
  • Harold Jennings
Part of the Methods in Molecular Medicine™ book series (MIMM, volume 66)


Meningococcus is an aerobic, fastidious, Gram-negative diplococcus that is found only in humans. Its cell wall has a cytoplasmic membrane, a peptidoglycan layer, and an outer membrane. Meningococci isolated from the bloodstream or the spinal fluid are almost always encapsulated. The capsules are polysaccharides, which consist of repeating sugar units (1,2). The capsular polysaccharide can be isolated, purified, and chemically and physically defined. Based on the chemical and immunological specificity of its capsular polysaccharides, Neisseria meningitidis has been classified serologically into groups A, B, C, 29E, H, I, K, L, W135, X, Y and Z (2). Of these, groups A, B, and C are responsible for approx 90% of meningococcal meningitis, and group B meningococcus is responsible for the majority of meningococcal disease in industrialized countries (1,2). The structures of the repeating units of the meningococcal polysaccharides have been elucidated and are shown in Table 1.
Table 1

Structures of the Capsular Polysaccharides of N. meningitidis


Structure of repeating unit
























→4)α-D-Gal (l→2) glycerol 3-PO4



→3)α-D-GlcNAc (l→3) β-D-GlcNAc (l→3) α-D-GlcNAc-1-PO4



→4)α-D-GlcNAc-1 -PO4



→6)α-D-Glc (l→4) α-D-NeuNAc (2→ (OAc)



→6)α-D-Gal (l→4) α-D-NeuNAc (2→



→3)α-D-GalNAc (1→1) glycerol 3-PO4



→7)β-D-KDO (l→3) α-D-GalNAc (l→



  1. 1.
    Gotschlich, E. C. (1984) Meningococcal meningitis, in Bacterial Vaccines (Germanier, E., ed.), Academic Press, New York, pp. 237–255.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Jennings, H. J. (1990) Capsular polysaccharides as vaccine candidates. Curr. Top. Microbiol. Immunol. 150, 97–127.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Gotschlich, E. C., Liu, T-Y, and Artenstein, M. S. (1969) Human immunity to the meningococcus. III. Preparation and immunochemical properties of the group A, group B and group C meningococcal polysaccharides. J. Exp. Med. 129, 1349–1365.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Bundle, D. R., Jennings, H. J., and Kenny, C. P. (1974) Studies on the group-specific polysaccharide of Neisseria meningitidis serogroup X and an improved procedure for its isolation. J. Biol. Chem. 249, 4797–4801.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Bhattacharjee, A. K., Jennings, H. J., Kenny, C. P., Martin, A., and Smith, I. C. P. (1975) Structural determination of the sialic acid polysaccharide antigens of Neisseria meningitidis serogroup B and serogroup C with carbon 13 nuclear magnetic resonance. J. Biol. Chem. 250, 1926–1932.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Michon, F., Roy, R., Jennings, H. J., and Ashton, F. E. (1984) Structural elucidation of the capsular polysaccharide of Neisseria meningitidis group H. Can. J. Chem. 62, 1519–1524.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Ashton, F. E., Ryan, A., Diena, B., and Jennings, H. J. (1983) A new serogroup (L) of Neisseria meningitidis. J. Clin. Microbiol. 17, 722–727.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Bundle, D. R., Smith, I. C. P., and Jennings, H. J. (1974) Determination of the structure and conformation of bacterial polysaccharides by carbon-13 nuclear magnetic resonance. J. Biol. Chem. 249, 2275–2281.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Bhattacharjee, A. K., Jennings, H. J., Kenny, C. P., Matin, A., and Smith, I. C. P. (1976) Structure determination of the polysaccharide antigens of Neisseria meningitidis serogroups Y, W-135 and BO1. Can. J. Biochem. 54, 1–8.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Jennings, H. J., Rosell, K. G., and Kenny, C. P. (1979) Structural elucidation of the capsular polysaccharide antigen of Neisseria meningitidis serogroup Z using 13C nuclear magnetic resonance. Can. J. Chem. 57, 2902–2907.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Bhattacharjee, A. K., Jennings, H. J., and Kenny, C. P. (1978) Strutural elucidation of the 3-deoxy-D-mannooctulosonic acid containing meningococcal 29e capsular polysaccharide antigen using carbon-13 nuclear magnetic resonance. Biochemistry. 17, 645–651.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc., Totowa, NJ 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Qingling Yang
    • 1
  • Harold Jennings
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Biological ScienceNational Research Council of CanadaOttawaCanada

Personalised recommendations