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Biofactors. 1999;10(2-3):211-7.

AhpC, oxidative stress and drug resistance in Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

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  • 1Laboratory of Tuberculosis and Research Biology, PathoGenesis Corporation, Seattle, WA 98119, USA.


The Mycobacterium tuberculosis AhpC is similar to a family of bacterial and eukaryotic antioxidant proteins with alkylhydroperoxidase (Ahp) and thioredoxin-dependent peroxidase (TPx) activities. AhpC expression is associated with resistance to the front-line antitubercular drug isoniazid in the naturally resistant organisms E. coli and M. smegmatis. We identified several isoniazid-resistant M. tuberculosis isolates with ahpC promoter mutations resulting in AhpC overexpression. These strains were more resistant to cumene hydroperoxide than were wild-type strains. However, these strains were unchanged in their sensitivity to isoniazid, refuting a role for AhpC in detoxification of this drug. All the isoniazid-resistant, AhpC-overexpressing strains were also deficient in activity of the mycobacterial catalase-peroxidase KatG. KatG, the only known catalase in M. tuberculosis, is required for activation of isoniazid. We propose that compensatory ahpC promoter mutations are selected from KatG-deficient, isoniazid-resistant M. tuberculosis during infections, to mitigate the added burden imposed by organic peroxides on these strains.

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