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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Biosynthetic origin of mycobacterial cell wall arabinosyl residues.

Designing new drugs that inhibit the biosynthesis of the D-arabinan moiety of the mycobacterial cell wall arabinogalactan is one important basic approach for treatment of mycobacterial diseases. However, the biosynthetic origin of the D-arabinosyl monosaccharide residues themselves is not known. To obtain information on this issue, mycobacteria growing in culture were fed glucose labeled with 14C or 3H in specific positions. The resulting radiolabeled cell walls were isolated and hydrolyzed, the arabinose and galactose were separated by high-pressure liquid chromatography, and the radioactivity in each sugar was determined. [U-14C]glucose, [6-3H]glucose, [6-14C]glucose, and [1-14C]glucose were all converted to cell wall arabinosyl residues with equal retention of radioactivity. The positions of the labeled atoms in the arabinose made from [1-14C]glucose and [6-3H]glucose were shown to be C-1 and H-5, respectively. These results demonstrated that the arabinose carbon skeleton is formed via the nonoxidative pentose shunt and not via hexose decarboxylation or via triose condensations. Since the pentose shunt product, ribulose-5-phosphate, is converted to arabinose-5-phosphate as the first step in 3-keto-D-manno-octulosonic acid biosynthesis by gram-negative bacteria, such a conversion was then searched for in mycobacteria. However, cell-free enzymatic analysis using both phosphorous nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometry and colorimetric methods failed to detect the conversion. Thus, the conversion of the pentose shunt intermediates to the D-arabino stereochemistry is not via the expected isomerase but rather must occur via novel metabolic transformations.[1]


  1. Biosynthetic origin of mycobacterial cell wall arabinosyl residues. Scherman, M., Weston, A., Duncan, K., Whittington, A., Upton, R., Deng, L., Comber, R., Friedrich, J.D., McNeil, M. J. Bacteriol. (1995) [Pubmed]
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