After growth of gonococci in the presence of cytidine monophospho-N-acetyl-neuraminic acid (CMP-NANA), their 4.5-kD lipooligosaccharide (LOS) component was increased by approximately 400 daltons, whereas the LOS of strains lacking the 4.5-kD component were unaffected. Expression of mAb-defined epitopes on the 4.5-kD component was decreased on LOS of strains grown in CMP-NANA, and treatment of the LOS with neuraminidase reversed this affect. Gonococci incubated with human PMNs also had decreased expression of the 4.5-kD+ epitopes. A detergent extract of gonococci incorporated radiolabeled NANA in the LOS, suggesting the presence of a sialyltransferase in gonococci. Exogenous sialyltransferases also could use LOS as an acceptor.

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