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J Biochem. 1989 Jul;106(1):81-6.

Thermally adaptive changes of mycolic acids in Mycobacterium smegmatis.

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Department of Domestic Science, Shoin Women's College, Hyogo.


The effect of growth temperature on mycolic acid composition in eight strains of Mycobacterium smegmatis was investigated by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. A change in growth temperature from 45 to 20 degrees C caused a shift in the subclass and molecular species composition of mycolic acids. The relative amount of alpha'-mycolic acids to alpha-mycolic acids decreased, and that of hydroxy mycolic acids increased at lower temperatures. Moreover, the proportion of shorter-chain species of alpha-mycolic acids increased, and those of longer-chain species of alpha-mycolic and hydroxy mycolic acids decreased. This observation seems to be due to the changes of the chain length of meromycolates because the alpha-alkyl chain unit of mycolic acids was not affected. The ratio of odd to even carbon-numbered alpha-mycolates decreased as the growth temperature was lowered. In contrast, the molecular species composition of alpha'-mycolic acid was not influenced by the growth temperature.

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