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Microbiology. 2002 Oct;148(Pt 10):3069-77.

The common aromatic amino acid biosynthesis pathway is essential in Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

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Department of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, UK.


Attempts to construct Mycobacterium tuberculosis strains with a defect in the common aromatic amino acid biosynthesis pathway were made. In other bacteria the genes of this pathway (aro) can be disrupted in the presence of suitable media supplements. The genomic organization of the aro genes in M. tuberculosis reveals that there is one operon (aroCKBQ) and three isolated aro genes (aroE, aroG and aroA). The aroK gene was chosen as a target for disruption; this encodes shikimate kinase, which catalyses the fifth step in chorismate biosynthesis. Attempts to replace the wild-type aroK gene with a disrupted allele (aroKDelta::hyg) by a two-step homologous recombination procedure were unsuccessful in a wild-type strain. When a second functional copy of aroK was integrated into the chromosome, it was possible to isolate a strain carrying the disrupted gene. Excision of the L5-integrated copy of aroK by the L5 excisionase could be not be achieved in the strain carrying the disrupted copy, but was possible in a strain carrying a wild-type copy. These results demonstrate that the chorismate pathway is essential for the viability of M. tuberculosis.

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