Mutations in the essential FAS II β-hydroxyacyl ACP dehydratase complex confer resistance to thiacetazone in Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Mycobacterium kansasii

Authors

  • Juan M. Belardinelli,

    1. Cátedra de Microbiología, Facultad de Ciencias Médicas, Universidad Nacional de Rosario, Rosario, Santa Fe, Argentina
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  • Héctor R. Morbidoni

    Corresponding author
    1. Cátedra de Microbiología, Facultad de Ciencias Médicas, Universidad Nacional de Rosario, Rosario, Santa Fe, Argentina
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Summary

It has recently been shown that the anti-mycobacterial pro-drug thiacetazone (TAC) inhibits the conversion of double bonds of mycolic acid precursors into cyclopropyl rings in Mycobacterium bovis var BCG, M. marimum and M. chelonae by affecting the cyclopropyl mycolic acid synthases (CMASs) as judged by the build-up of unsaturated mycolate precursors. In our hands, TAC inhibits mycolic acid biosynthesis in Mycobacterium tuberculosis and M. kansasii with almost negligible accumulation of those precursors. Our observations that ‘de novo’ biosynthesis of all the mycolic acid families decreased upon TAC treatment prompted us to analyse the role of each one of the Type II Fatty Acid Synthase (FASII) enzymes. Overexpression of the hadABC operon, encoding the essential FASII dehydratase complex, but not of any of the remaining FASII genes acting on the elongation of fatty acyl chains leading to the synthesis of meromycolic acids, resulted in high level of resistance to TAC in M. tuberculosis. Spontaneous M. tuberculosis and M. kansasii TAC-resistant mutants isolated during this work revealed mutations in the hadABC genes strongly supporting our proposal that these enzymes are new players in the resistance to this anti-mycobacterial compound.

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