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Free Content Complete auxotrophy for unsaturated fatty acids requires deletion of two sets of genes in Mycobacterium smegmatis

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The synthesis of unsaturated fatty acids in Mycobacterium smegmatis is poorly characterized. Bioinformatic analysis revealed four putative fatty acid desaturases in its genome, one of which, MSMEG_1886, is highly homologous to desA3, the only palmitoyl/stearoyl desaturase present in the Mycobacterium tuberculosis genome. A MSMEG_1886 deletion mutant was partially auxotrophic for oleic acid and viable at 37°C and 25°C, although with a long lag phase in liquid medium. Fatty acid analysis suggested that MSMEG_1886 is a palmitoyl/stearoyl desaturase, as the synthesis of palmitoleic acid was abrogated, while oleic acid contents dropped by half in the mutant. Deletion of the operon MSMEG_1741‐1743 (highly homologous to a Pseudomonas aeruginosa acyl‐CoA desaturase) had little effect on growth of the parental strain; however the double mutant MSMEG_1886‐MSMEG_1741‐1743 strictly required oleic acid for growth. The ΔMSMEG_1886‐ΔMSMEG_1741 double mutant was able to grow (poorly but better than the ΔMSMEG_1886 single mutant) in solid and liquid media devoid of oleic acid, suggesting a repressor role for ΔMSMEG_1741. Fatty acid analysis of the described mutants suggested that MSMEG_1742‐43 desaturates C18:0 and C24:0 fatty acids. Thus, although the M. smegmatis desA3 homologue is the major player in unsaturated fatty acid synthesis, a second set of genes is also involved.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2017

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