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Environ Microbiol Rep. 2012 Apr;4(2):168-82. doi: 10.1111/j.1758-2229.2011.00314.x. Epub 2012 Jan 12.

Cholesterol metabolism in Mycobacterium smegmatis.

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Departament of Environmental Biology, Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Madrid, Spain Department of Pathology and Infectious Diseases, The Royal Veterinary College, Centre for Emerging, Endemic and Exotic Disease, Hawkshead Lane, Hertfordshire AL9 7TA, UK.


The metabolism of cholesterol in Mycobacterium smegmatis mc(2) 155 has been investigated by using a microarray approach. The transcriptome of M. smegmatis growing in cholesterol was compared with that of cells growing in glycerol as the sole carbon and energy sources during the middle exponential phase. Microarray analyses revealed that only 89 genes were upregulated at least threefold during growth on cholesterol compared with growth on glycerol. The upregulated genes are scattered throughout the 7 Mb M. smegmatis genome and likely reflect a general physiological adaptation of the bacterium to grow on this highly hydrophobic polycyclic compound. Nevertheless, 39 of the catabolic genes are organized in three specific clusters. These results not only supported the role of KstR and KstR2 as auto-regulated repressors of cholesterol catabolism, and revealed some metabolic similarities and differences on actinobacteria, but more important, they have facilitated the identification of new catabolic genes, opening a research scenario that might provide important clues on the role of cholesterol in tuberculosis infection.

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