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J Biol Chem. 2005 Dec 9;280(49):40699-706. Epub 2005 Oct 6.

p-Hydroxybenzoic acid synthesis in Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

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Unité deGénétique Mycobactérienne, Institut Pasteur, 75015, Paris, France.


Glycosylated p-hydroxybenzoic acid methyl esters and structurally related phenolphthiocerol glycolipids are important virulence factors of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Although both types of molecules are thought to be derived from p-hydroxybenzoic acid, the origin of this putative biosynthetic precursor in mycobacteria remained to be established. We describe the characterization of a transposon mutant of M. tuberculosis deficient in the production of all forms of p-hydroxybenzoic acid derivatives. The transposon was found to be inserted in Rv2949c, a gene located in the vicinity of the polyketide synthase gene pks15/1, involved in the elongation of p-hydroxybenzoate to phenolphthiocerol in phenolic glycolipid-producing strains. A recombinant form of the Rv2949c enzyme was produced in the fast-growing non-pathogenic Mycobacterium smegmatis and purified to near homogeneity. The recombinant enzyme catalyzed the removal of the pyruvyl moiety of chorismate to form p-hydroxybenzoate with an apparent K(m) value for chorismate of 19.7 microm and a k(cat) value of 0.102 s(-1). Strong inhibition of the reaction by p-hydroxybenzoate but not by pyruvate was observed. These results establish Rv2949c as a chorismate pyruvate-lyase responsible for the direct conversion of chorismate to p-hydroxybenzoate and identify Rv2949c as the sole enzymatic source of p-hydroxybenzoic acid in M. tuberculosis.

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