1887

Abstract

Mycobacterium smegmatis is intrinsically resistant to thiacetazone, an anti-tubercular thiourea; however we report here that it causes a mild inhibition in growth in liquid medium. Since mycolic acid biosynthesis was affected, we cloned and expressed Mycobacterium smegmatis mycolic acid methyltransferases, postulated as targets for thiacetazone in other mycobacterial species. During this analysis we identified MSMEG_1350 as the methyltransferase involved in epoxy mycolic acid synthesis since its deletion led to their total loss. Phenotypic characterization of the mutant strain showed colony morphology alterations at all temperatures, reduced growth and a slightly increased susceptibility to SDS, lipophilic and large hydrophilic drugs at 20 °C with little effect at 37 °C. No changes were detected between parental and mutant strains in biofilm formation, sliding motility or sedimentation rate. Intriguingly, we found that several mycobacteriophages severely decreased their ability to form plaques in the mutant strain. Taken together our results prove that, in spite of being a minor component of the mycolic acid pool, epoxy-mycolates are required for a proper assembly and functioning of the cell envelope. Further studies are warranted to decipher the role of epoxy-mycolates in the M. smegmatis cell envelope.

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2018-10-12
2019-12-12
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