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Characterization of a putative alpha-mannosyltransferase involved in phosphatidylinositol trimannoside biosynthesis in Mycobacterium tuberculosis

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Laurent Kremer, Dr Sudagar Gurcha, Professor Del Besra


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Phosphatidyl-myo-inositol mannosides (PIMs). lipomannan (LM) and lipoarabinomannan (LAM) are an important class of bacterial factors termed modulins that are found in tuberculosis and leprosy. Although their structures are well established, little is known with respect to the molecular aspects of the biosynthetic machinery involved in the synthesis of these glycolipids. On the basis of sequence similarity to other glycosyltransferases and our previous studies defining an a-mannosyltransferase from Mycobacterium tuberculosis. named PimB [Schaeffer, Khoo, Besra, Chatterjee. Brennan. Belisle and Inamine (1999) J. Biol. Chem. 274, 31625-31631], which catalysed the formation of triacyl (Ac-3)-PIM2 (i.e. the dimannoside). we have identified a related gene from M. tuberculosis CDC 1551, now designated pimC. The use of a cell-free assay containing GD-[C-14]mannose, amphomycin and membranes from Myobacterium smegmatis overexpressing PimC led to the synthesis of a new alkali-labile PIM product. Fast-atom-bombardment MS established the identity of the new enzymically synthesized product as Ac3PIM3 (i.e. the trimannoside). The results indicate that pimC encodes an alpha-mannosyltransferase involved in Ac3PIM3 biosynthesis. However, inactivation of pimC in Myobacterium bovis Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) did not affect the production of higher PIMs, LM and LAM when compared with wild-type M. bovis BCG, suggesting the existence of redundant gene(s) or an alternate pathway that may compensate for this PimC deficiency. Further analyses. which compared the distribution of pimC in a panel of M. tuberculosis strains, revealed that pimC was present in only 22% of the clinical isolates examined.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Kremer L, Gurcha SS, Bifani P, Hitchen PG, Baulard A, Morris HR, Dell A, Brennan PJ, Besra GS

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Biochemical Journal

Year: 2002

Volume: 363

Pages: 437-447

ISSN (print): 0264-6021

ISSN (electronic): 1470-8728

Publisher: Portland Press Ltd.


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