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Annu Rev Biochem. 2005;74:791-831.

The structural biology of type II fatty acid biosynthesis.

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Department of Structural Biology, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee 38105, USA.


The type II fatty acid synthetic pathway is the principal route for the production of membrane phospholipid acyl chains in bacteria and plants. The reaction sequence is carried out by a series of individual soluble proteins that are each encoded by a discrete gene, and the pathway intermediates are shuttled between the enzymes as thioesters of an acyl carrier protein. The Escherichia coli system is the paradigm for the study of this system, and high-resolution X-ray and/or NMR structures of representative members of every enzyme in the type II pathway are now available. The structural biology of these proteins reveals the specific three-dimensional features of the enzymes that explain substrate recognition, chain length specificity, and the catalytic mechanisms that define their roles in producing the multitude of products generated by the type II system. These structures are also a valuable resource to guide antibacterial drug discovery.

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