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Nat Med. 2005 Jun;11(6):638-44. Epub 2005 May 15.

Mycobacterium tuberculosis isocitrate lyases 1 and 2 are jointly required for in vivo growth and virulence.

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Laboratory of Infection Biology, The Rockefeller University, 1230 York Avenue, New York, NY 10021, USA.


Genes involved in fatty acid catabolism have undergone extensive duplication in the genus Mycobacterium, which includes the etiologic agents of leprosy and tuberculosis. Here, we show that prokaryotic- and eukaryotic-like isoforms of the glyoxylate cycle enzyme isocitrate lyase (ICL) are jointly required for fatty acid catabolism and virulence in Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Although deletion of icl1 or icl2, the genes that encode ICL1 and ICL2, respectively, had little effect on bacterial growth in macrophages and mice, deletion of both genes resulted in complete impairment of intracellular replication and rapid elimination from the lungs. The feasibility of targeting ICL1 and ICL2 for chemical inhibition was shown using a dual-specific ICL inhibitor, which blocked growth of M. tuberculosis on fatty acids and in macrophages. The absence of ICL orthologs in mammals should facilitate the development of glyoxylate cycle inhibitors as new drugs for the treatment of tuberculosis.

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