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Biochem J. 1969 Dec;115(5):1031-50.

Chemical and biological properties of mycobactins isolated from various mycobacteria.


Nine different strains of mycobacteria grown on media deficient in iron all produced mycobactins. Most strains produced one mycobactin in great preponderance. Mycobacteria from clearly distinct taxonomic groups gave mycobactins differing in the structure of their nuclei. One group of taxonomically related mycobacteria produced mycobactins having the same nucleus but with different distributions of side chains within the homologous mixtures. Simple methods are described for identifying mycobactins on a small scale; these may be of value in classifying mycobacteria. Structures are proposed for mycobactin A from Mycobacterium aurum, mycobactin R from M. terrae, mycobactin F, produced together with mycobactin H by M. fortuitum, and mycobactins M and N from M. marinum. The first three of these differ from known mycobactins in details of substitution and configuration of asymmetric centres in the nucleus. Mycobactins M and N are substantially different, having only small acyl groups (acetyl and propionyl respectively) at the hydroxamic acid centre of the mycobactic acid moiety. Both are homologous mixtures having long-chain saturated 3-hydroxy-2-methyl acid fragments in the cobactin moiety. All mycobactins so far isolated promote almost maximal growth of M. johnei at 30ng./ml. in liquid medium. The activity of some mycobactins extends to much lower concentrations, mycobactin S showing significant growth promotion at 0.3ng./ml. Mycobactin M or N in combination with mycobactins having a long side chain in the mycobactic acid moiety exerts a mutually antagonistic effect on the growth of M. johnei, the mixture giving less growth than either mycobactin separately. Mycobactin M also decreases the growth of M. kansasii and M. tuberculosis on liquid media. These antagonistic effects are probably caused by a lengthening of the lag phase.

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