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Microb Pathog. 1996 Jan;20(1):41-55.

Molecular characterization of a surface-exposed superoxide dismutase of Mycobacterium avium.

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Unité INSERM U411, Faculté de Médecine Necker-Enfants Malades, Paris, France.


Mycobacterium avium is an intracellular pathogen capable of growing inside the phagosomal compartment of macrophages. In this work, we characterized the superoxide dismutase of M. avium, as a putative candidate to resist the oxidative stress. The gene sodA encoding superoxide dismutase (SOD:EC1.15.1.1) from Mycobacterium avium TMC724 was cloned and sequenced. It encodes a 23 kDa protein (207 aminoacids) showing identity with the Mycobacterium leprae SOD (91%) and the M. tuberculosis SOD (83%). This enzyme was functionally expressed in both Escherichia coli and Mycobacterium smegmatis, and identified as a manganese (Mn) SOD on the basis of sequence comparison with other MnSODs from different organisms, and by activity inhibition studies. By indirect immunogold labeling of M. avium with a mAb directed against M. leprae SOD, the enzyme was found to be exposed at the cell surface of M. avium. It was also shown that SOD was released in supernates of M. avium TMV724 during exponential growth, suggesting a role of this enzyme during interactions with the environment. When SOD was expressed in the non-pathogenic M. smegmatis, it was also exposed at the surface of bacteria and released in supernates, but this was not sufficient to protect this recombinant mycobacterium from the killing mechanisms of macrophages.

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