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Microbiology. 2002 Apr;148(Pt 4):951-60.

MabA (FabG1), a Mycobacterium tuberculosis protein involved in the long-chain fatty acid elongation system FAS-II.

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Institut de Pharmacologie et de Biologie Structurale, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Université Paul Sabatier (UMR5089), 205 route de Narbonne, 31077 Toulouse cedex, France.


The fatty acid elongation system FAS-II is involved in the biosynthesis of mycolic acids, which are very long-chain fatty acids of the cell envelope specific to Mycobacterium tuberculosis and other mycobacteria. A potential component of FAS-II, the protein MabA (FabG1), was overexpressed and purified. Sedimentation equilibrium analyses revealed that MabA undergoes a dimer to tetramer self-association with a dissociation constant of 22 microM. The protein was detected by Western blotting in a mycobacterial cell-wall extract that produces mycolic acids and in the FPLC FAS-II fraction. MabA was shown to catalyse the NADPH-specific reduction of beta-ketoacyl derivatives, equivalent to the second step of a FAS-II elongation round. Unlike the known homologous proteins, MabA preferentially metabolizes long-chain substrates (C(8)-C(20)) and has a poor affinity for the C(4) substrate, in agreement with FAS-II specificities. Molecular modelling of MabA structure suggested the presence of an unusually hydrophobic substrate-binding pocket holding a unique Trp residue, suitable for fluorescence spectroscopic analyses. In agreement with the enzyme kinetic data, the spectral properties of MabA were different in the presence of the C(8)-C(16) ligands as compared to the C(4) ligand. Altogether, these data bring out distinctive enzymic and structural properties of MabA, which correlate with its predilection for long-chain substrates, in contrast to most of the other known ketoacyl reductases.

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