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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1999 Feb 16;255(2):239-44.

Characterization of Mycobacterium smegmatis mutants defective in 1-d-myo-inosityl-2-amino-2-deoxy-alpha-d-glucopyranoside and mycothiol biosynthesis.

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Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla 92093, USA.


Mycothiol (MSH) is the major low molecular weight thiol in mycobacteria. Two chemical mutants with low MSH and one with no MSH (strain 49) were produced in Mycobacterium smegmatis mc2155 to assess the role of MSH in mycobacteria. Strain 49 was shown to not produce 1-d-myo-inosityl-2-amino-2-deoxy-alpha-d-glucopyranoside (GlcN-Ins), an intermediate in MSH biosynthesis. Relative to the parent strain, mutant 49 formed colonies more slowly on solid media and was more sensitive to H2O2 and rifampin, but less sensitive to isoniazid. Complementation of mutant 49 with DNA from M. tuberculosis H37Rv partially restored production of GlcN-Ins and MSH, and resistance to H2O2, but largely restored colony growth rate and sensitivity to rifampin and isoniazid. The results indicate that MSH and GlcN-Ins are not essential for in vitro survival of mycobacteria but may play significant roles in determining the sensitivity of mycobacteria to environmental toxins.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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