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Mol Microbiol. 2006 May;60(4):999-1013.

Mycobacterium tuberculosis malate synthase is a laminin-binding adhesin.

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Department of Pathology, New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY 10016, USA.


Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tb) uses the glyoxalate bypass for intracellular survival in vivo. These studies provide evidence that the M. tb malate synthase (MS) has adapted to function as an adhesin which binds to laminin and fibronectin. This binding is achieved via the unique C-terminal region of the M. tb MS. The ability to function as an adhesin necessitates extracellular localization. We provide evidence that despite the absence of a Sec-translocation signal sequence the M. tb MS is secreted/excreted, and is anchored on the cell wall by an undefined mechanism. The MS of Mycobacterium smegmatis is cytoplasmic but the M. tb MS expressed in M. smegmatis localizes to the cell wall and enhances the adherence of the bacteria to lung epithelial A549 cells. Antibodies to the C-terminal laminin/fibronectin-binding domain interfere with the binding of the M. tb MS to laminin and fibronectin and reduce the adherence of M. tb to A549 cells. Coupled to the earlier evidence of in vivo expression of M. tb MS during active but not latent infection in humans, these studies show that a housekeeping enzyme of M. tb contributes to its armamentarium of virulence promoting factors.

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