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Ealand C, Rimal B, Chang J, Mashigo L, Chengalroyen M, Mapela L, Beukes G, Machowski E, Kim SJ, Kana B. 2018. Resuscitation-Promoting Factors Are Required for Mycobacterium smegmatis Biofilm Formation. Appl Environ Microbiol. 84(17). 

Resuscitation-promoting factors (Rpfs) have previously been shown to act as growth-stimulatory molecules via their lysozyme-like activity on peptidoglycan in the bacterial cell wall. In this study, we investigated the ability of Mycobacterium smegmatis strains lacking rpf genes to form biofilms and tested their susceptibilities to cell wall-targeting agents. M. smegmatis contains four distinct rpf homologues, namely, MSMEG_5700 (rpfA), MSMEG_5439 (rpfB), MSMEG_4640 (rpfE2), and MSMEG_4643 (rpfE). During axenic growth of the wild-type strain, all four mRNA transcripts were expressed to various degrees, but the expression of MSMEG_4643 was significantly greater during exponential growth. Similarly, all rpf mRNA transcripts could be detected in biofilms grown for 7, 14, and 28 days, with MSMEG_4643 expressed at the highest abundance after 7 days. In-frame unmarked deletion mutants (single and combinatorial) were generated and displayed altered colony morphologies and the inability to form typical biofilms. Moreover, any strain lacking rpfA and rpfB simultaneously exhibited increased susceptibility to rifampin, vancomycin, and SDS. Exogenous Rpf supplementation in the form of culture filtrate failed to restore biofilm formation. Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) analysis of peptidoglycan (PG) suggested a reduction in 4-3 cross-linked PG in the ΔrpfABEE2 mutant strain. In addition, the level of PG-repeat units terminating in 1,6-anhydroMurNAc appeared to be significantly reduced in the quadruple rpf mutant. Collectively, our data have shown that Rpfs play an important role in biofilm formation, possibly through alterations in PG cross-linking and the production of signaling molecules.IMPORTANCE The cell wall of pathogenic mycobacteria is composed of peptidoglycan, arabinogalactan, mycolic acids, and an outer capsule. This inherent complexity renders it resistant to many antibiotics. Consequently, its biosynthesis and remodeling during growth directly impact viability. Resuscitation-promoting factors (Rpfs), enzymes with lytic transglycosylase activity, have been associated with the revival of dormant cells and subsequent resumption of vegetative growth. Mycobacterium smegmatis, a soil saprophyte and close relative of the human pathogen Mycobacteriumtuberculosis, encodes four distinct Rpfs. Herein, we assessed the relationship between Rpfs and biofilm formation, which is used as a model to study drug tolerance and bacterial signaling in mycobacteria. We demonstrated that progressive deletion of rpf genes hampered the development of biofilms and reduced drug tolerance. These effects were accompanied by a reduction in muropeptide production and altered peptidoglycan cross-linking. Collectively, these observations point to an important role for Rpfs in mycobacterial communication and drug tolerance.


Tuberculosis (TB) is the leading cause of death from an infectious bacterial disease. Poor diagnostic tools to detect active disease plague TB control programs and affect patient care. Accurate detection of live Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), the causative agent of TB, could improve TB diagnosis and patient treatment. We report that mycobacteria and other corynebacteria can be specifically detected with a fluorogenic trehalose analog. We designed a 4-N,N-dimethylamino-1,8-naphthalimide-conjugated trehalose (DMN-Tre) probe that undergoes >700-fold increase in fluorescence intensity when transitioned from aqueous to hydrophobic environments. This enhancement occurs upon metabolic conversion of DMN-Tre to trehalose monomycolate and incorporation into the mycomembrane of Actinobacteria. DMN-Tre labeling enabled the rapid, no-wash visualization of mycobacterial and corynebacterial species without nonspecific labeling of Gram-positive or Gram-negative bacteria. DMN-Tre labeling was detected within minutes and was inhibited by heat killing of mycobacteria. Furthermore, DMN-Tre labeling was reduced by treatment with TB drugs, unlike the clinically used auramine stain. Lastly, DMN-Tre labeled Mtb in TB-positive human sputum samples comparably to auramine staining, suggesting that this operationally simple method may be deployable for TB diagnosis.


Machowski EE, Kana BD. 2017. Genetic Mimetics of Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus as Verification Standards for Molecular Diagnostics. J Clin Microbiol. 2017 Dec;55(12):3384-3394. 

Molecular diagnostics have revolutionized the management of health care through enhanced detection of disease or infection and effective enrollment into treatment. In recognition of this, the World Health Organization approved the rollout of nucleic acid amplification technologies for identification of Mycobacterium tuberculosis using platforms such as GeneXpert MTB/RIF, the GenoType MTBDRplus line probe assay, and, more recently, GeneXpert MTB/RIF Ultra. These assays can simultaneously detect tuberculosis infection and assess rifampin resistance. However, their widespread use in health systems requires verification and quality assurance programs. To enable development of these, we report the construction of genetically modified strains of Mycobacterium smegmatis that mimic the profile of Mycobacteriumtuberculosis on both the GeneXpert MTB/RIF and the MTBDRplus line probe diagnostic tests. Using site-specific gene editing, we also created derivatives that faithfully mimic the diagnostic result of rifampin-resistant M. tuberculosis, with mutations at positions 513, 516, 526, 531, and 533 in the rifampin resistance-determining region of the rpoB gene. Next, we extended this approach to other diseases and demonstrated that a Staphylococcus aureus gene sequence can be introduced into M. smegmatis to generate a positive response for the SCCmec probe in the GeneXpert SA Nasal Complete molecular diagnostic cartridge, designed for identification of methicillin-resistant S. aureus These biomimetic strains are cost-effective, have low biohazard content, accurately mimic drug resistance, and can be produced with relative ease, thus illustrating their potential for widespread use as verification standards for diagnosis of a variety of diseases.


Senzani S, Li D, Bhaskar A, Ealand C, Chang J, Rimal B, Liu C, Joon Kim S, Dhar N, Kana B. 2017. An Amidase_3 domain-containing N-acetylmuramyl-L-alanine amidase is required for mycobacterial cell division. Sci Rep. 25;7(1):1140.

Mycobacteria possess a multi-layered cell wall that requires extensive remodelling during cell division. We investigated the role of an amidase_3 domain-containing N-acetylmuramyl-L-alanine amidase, a peptidoglycan remodelling enzyme implicated in cell division. We demonstrated that deletion of MSMEG_6281 (Ami1) in Mycobacterium smegmatis resulted in the formation of cellular chains, illustrative of cells that were unable to complete division. Suprisingly, viability in the Δami1 mutant was maintained through atypical lateral branching, the products of which proceeded to form viable daughter cells. We showed that these lateral buds resulted from mislocalization of DivIVA, a major determinant in facilitating polar elongation in mycobacterial cells. Failure of Δami1 mutant cells to separate also led to dysregulation of FtsZ ring bundling. Loss of Ami1 resulted in defects in septal peptidoglycan turnover with release of excess cell wall material from the septum or newly born cell poles. We noted signficant accumulation of 3-3 crosslinked muropeptides in the Δami1 mutant. We further demonstrated that deletion of ami1 leads to increased cell wall permeability and enhanced susceptiblity to cell wall targeting antibiotics. Collectively, these data provide novel insight on cell division in actinobacteria and highlights a new class of potential drug targets for mycobacterial diseases.


Kistan J, Laher F, Otwombe K, Panchia R, Mawaka N, Lebina L, Diacon A, Kana B, Martinson N. 2017. Pulmonary TB: varying radiological presentations in individuals with HIV in Soweto, South Africa. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg. 111(3):132-136.


HIV-uninfected individuals with pulmonary TB (PTB) commonly present with radiological features of upper lobe cavitatory disease. In contrast, individuals with HIV and PTB may present differently. This study compared radiological features of individuals with laboratory-confirmed PTB by HIV status from the largest study in South Africa.


We conducted a cross-sectional analysis of adults recruited between 2012 and 2015 with laboratory-confirmed PTB in Soweto, South Africa. Baseline characteristics and chest radiograph (CXR) findings were compared by χ2 test stratified by HIV status.


Of the 474 individuals with PTB, 348 (73.4%) had HIV. Individuals with HIV had a higher proportion of infiltrates (58.9% vs 46.8%, p=0.02) and a lower proportion of cavitations (40.8% vs 68.3%; p<0.0001) compared to HIV-uninfected individuals. Additionally, individuals with HIV had a lower proportion of cavitations sized ≥4 cm (16.7% vs 36.5%, p<0.001) and a lower proportion of disease extent involving half or more of the total lung area radiologically (25.9% vs 45.3%, p<0.0001).


Individuals with HIV co-infected with PTB have a higher proportion of infiltrates and a lower proportion of cavitations relative to the HIV-uninfected PTB individuals. The absence of classical upper lobe cavitatory disease on CXR does not exclude PTB in individuals with HIV.


McIvor A, Koornhof H, Kana BD. 2017. Relapse, re-infection and mixed infections in tuberculosis disease. Pathog Dis. 1;75(3).

Tuberculosis (TB) disease can be characterized by genotypic and phenotypic complexity in Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacilli within a single patient. This microbiological heterogeneity has become an area of intense study due its perceived importance in drug tolerance, drug resistance and as a surrogate measure of transmission rates. This review presents a descriptive analysis of research describing the prevalence of mixed-strain TB infections in geographically distinct locations. Despite significant variation in disease burden and a rampant human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-TB co-epidemic, there was no difference in the prevalence range of mixed infections reported in African countries when compared to the rest of the world. The occurrence of recurrent TB was associated with a higher prevalence of mixed-strain infections, but this difference was not reported as statistically significant. These interpretations were limited by differences in the design and overall size of the studies assessed. Factors such as sputum quality, culture media, number of repeated culture steps, molecular typing methods and HIV-infection status can affect the detection of mixed-strain infection. It is recommended that future clinical studies should focus on settings with varying TB burdens, with a common sample processing protocol to gain further insight into these phenomena and develop novel transmission blocking strategies.


Su HW, Zhu JH, Li H, Cai RJ, Ealand C, Wang X, Chen YX, Kayani MU, Zhu TF, Moradigaravand D, Huang H, Kana BD, Javid B. 2016. The essential mycobacterial amidotransferase GatCAB is a modulator of specific translational fidelity. Nat Microbiol. 1(11):16147.

Although regulation of translation fidelity is an essential process1-7, diverse organisms and organelles have differing requirements of translational accuracy8-15, and errors in gene translation serve an adaptive function under certain conditions16-20. Therefore, optimal levels of fidelity may vary according to context. Most bacteria utilize a two-step pathway for the specific synthesis of aminoacylated glutamine and/or asparagine tRNAs, involving the glutamine amidotransferase GatCAB21-25, but it had not been appreciated that GatCAB may play a role in modulating mistranslation rates. Here, by using a forward genetic screen, we show that the mycobacterial GatCAB enzyme complex mediates the translational fidelity of glutamine and asparagine codons. We identify mutations in gatA that cause partial loss of function in the holoenzyme, with a consequent increase in rates of mistranslation. By monitoring single-cell transcription dynamics, we demonstrate that reduced gatCAB expression leads to increased mistranslation rates, which result in enhanced rifampicin-specific phenotypic resistance. Consistent with this, strains with mutations in gatA from clinical isolates of Mycobacterium tuberculosis show increased mistranslation, with associated antibiotic tolerance, suggesting a role for mistranslation as an adaptive strategy in tuberculosis. Together, our findings demonstrate a potential role for the indirect tRNA aminoacylation pathway in regulating translational fidelity and adaptive mistranslation.


Chengalroyen MD, Beukes GM, Gordhan BG, Streicher EM, Churchyard G, Hafner R, Warren R, Otwombe K, Martinson N, Kana BD. 2016. Detection and Quantification of Differentially Culturable Tubercle Bacteria in Sputum from Patients with Tuberculosis. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 194(12):1532-1540.


Recent studies suggest that baseline tuberculous sputum comprises a mixture of routinely culturable and differentially culturable tubercle bacteria (DCTB). The latter seems to be drug tolerant and dependent on resuscitation-promoting factors (Rpfs).


To further explore this, we assessed sputum from patients with tuberculosis for DCTB and studied the impact of exogenous culture filtrate (CF) supplementation ex vivo.


Sputum samples from adults with tuberculosis and HIV-1 and adults with no HIV-1 were used for most probable number (MPN) assays supplemented with CF and Rpf-deficient CF, to detect CF-dependent and Rpf-independent DCTB, respectively.


In 110 individuals, 19.1% harbored CF-dependent DCTB and no Rpf-independent DCTB. Furthermore, 11.8% yielded Rpf-independent DCTB with no CF-dependent DCTB. In addition, 53.6% displayed both CF-dependent and Rpf-independent DCTB, 1.8% carried CF-independent DCTB, and 13.6% had no DCTB. Sputum from individuals without HIV-1 yielded higher CF-supplemented MPN counts compared with counterparts with HIV-1. Furthermore, individuals with HIV-1 with CD4 counts greater than 200 cells/mm3 displayed higher CF-supplemented MPN counts compared with participants with HIV-1 with CD4 counts less than 200 cells/mm3. CF supplementation allowed for detection of mycobacteria in 34 patients with no culturable bacteria on solid media. Additionally, the use of CF enhanced detection of sputum smear-negative individuals.


These observations demonstrate a novel Rpf-independent DCTB population in sputum and reveal that reduced host immunity is associated with lower prevalence of CF-responsive bacteria. Quantification of DCTB in standard TB diagnosis would be beneficial because these organisms provide a putative biomarker to monitor treatment response and risk of disease recurrence.


Gama NH, Elkhadir AY, Gordhan BG, Kana BD, Darkwa J, Meyer D. 2016. Activity of phosphino palladium(II) and platinum(II) complexes against HIV-1 and Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Biometals. 29(4):637-50.

Treatment of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is currently complicated by increased prevalence of co-infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The development of drug candidates that offer the simultaneous management of HIV and tuberculosis (TB) would be of great benefit in the holistic treatment of HIV/AIDS, especially in sub-Saharan Africa which has the highest global prevalence of HIV-TB coinfection. Bis(diphenylphosphino)-2-pyridylpalladium(II) chloride (1), bis(diphenylphosphino)-2-pyridylplatinum(II) chloride (2), bis(diphenylphosphino)-2-ethylpyridylpalladium(II) chloride (3) and bis(diphenylphosphino)-2-ethylpyridylplatinum(II) (4) were investigated for the inhibition of HIV-1 through interactions with the viral protease. The complexes were subsequently assessed for biological potency against Mycobacterium tuberculosis H37Rv by determining the minimal inhibitory concentration (MIC) using broth microdilution. Complex (3) showed the most significant and competitive inhibition of HIV-1 protease (p = 0.014 at 100 µM). Further studies on its in vitro effects on whole virus showed reduced viral infectivity by over 80 % at 63 µM (p < 0.05). In addition, the complex inhibited the growth of Mycobacteriumtuberculosis at an MIC of 5 µM and was non-toxic to host cells at all active concentrations (assessed by tetrazolium dye and real time cell electronic sensing). In vitro evidence is provided here for the possibility of utilizing a single metal-based compound for the treatment of HIV/AIDS and TB.


Hassim F, Papadopoulos AO, Kana BD, Gordhan BG. 2015. A combinatorial role for MutY and Fpg DNA glycosylases in mutation avoidance in Mycobacterium smegmatis. Mutat Res. 779:24-32.

Hydroxyl radical (OH) among reactive oxygen species cause damage to nucleobases with thymine being the most susceptible, whilst in contrast, the singlet oxygen ((1)02) targets only guanine bases. The high GC content of mycobacterial genomes predisposes these organisms to oxidative damage of guanine. The exposure of cellular DNA to OH and one-electron oxidants results in the formation of two main degradation products, the pro-mutagenic 8-oxo-7,8-dihydroguanine (8-oxoGua) and the cytotoxic 2,6-diamino-4-hydroxy-5-formamidopyrimidine (FapyGua). These lesions are repaired through the base excision repair (BER) pathway and we previously, demonstrated a combinatorial role for the mycobacterial Endonuclease III (Nth) and the Nei family of DNA glycosylases in mutagenesis. In addition, the formamidopyrimidine (Fpg/MutM) and MutY DNA glycosylases have also been implicated in mutation avoidance and BER in mycobacteria. In this study, we further investigate the combined role of MutY and the Fpg/Nei DNA glycosylases in Mycobacteriumsmegmatis and demonstrate that deletion of mutY resulted in enhanced sensitivity to oxidative stress, an effect which was not exacerbated in Δfpg1 Δfpg2 or Δnei1 Δnei2 double mutant backgrounds. However, combinatorial loss of the mutY, fpg1 and fpg2 genes resulted in a significant increase in mutation rates suggesting interplay between these enzymes. Consistent with this, there was a significant increase in C → A mutations with a corresponding change in cell morphology of rifampicin resistant mutants in the Δfpg1 Δfpg2 ΔmutY deletion mutant. In contrast, deletion of mutY together with the nei homologues did not result in any growth/survival defects or changes in mutation rates. Taken together these data indicate that the mycobacterial mutY, in combination with the Fpg DNA N-glycosylases, plays an important role in controlling mutagenesis under oxidative stress.


Narrandes NC, Machowski EE, Mizrahi V, Kana BD. 2015. Cleavage of the moaX-encoded fused molybdopterin synthase from Mycobacterium tuberculosis necessary for activity. BMC Microbiol. 15:22.


Molybdopterin cofactor (MoCo) biosynthesis in Mycobacterium tuberculosis is associated with a multiplicity of genes encoding several enzymes in the pathway, including the molybdopterin (MPT) synthase, a hetero tetramer comprising two MoaD and two MoaE subunits. In addition to moaD1, moaD2, moaE1, moaE2, the M. tuberculosis genome also contains a moaX gene which encodes an MPT-synthase in which the MoaD and MoaE domains are located on a single polypeptide. In this study, we assessed the requirement for post-translational cleavage of MoaX for functionality of this novel, fused MPT synthase and attempted to establish a functional hierarchy for the various MPT-synthase encoding genes in M. tuberculosis.


Using a heterologous Mycobacterium smegmatis host and the activity of the MoCo-dependent nitrate reductase, we confirmed that moaD2 and moaE2 from M. tuberculosis together encode a functional MPT synthase. In contrast, moaD1 displayed no functionality in this system, even in the presence of the MoeBR sulphurtransferase, which contains the rhodansese-like domain, predicted to activate MoaD subunits. We demonstrated that cleavage of MoaX into its constituent MoaD and MoaE subunits was required for MPT synthase activity and confirmed that cleavage occurs between the Gly82 and Ser83 residues in MoaX. Further analysis of the Gly81-Gly82 motif confirmed that both of these residues are necessary for catalysis and that the Gly81 was required for recognition/cleavage of MoaX by an as yet unidentified protease. In addition, the MoaE component of MoaX was able to function in conjunction with M. smegmatis MoaD2 suggesting that cleavage of MoaX renders functionally interchangeable subunits. Expression of MoaX in E. coli revealed that incorrect post-translational processing is responsible for the lack of activity of MoaX in this heterologous host.


There is a degree of functional interchangeability between the MPT synthase subunits of M. tuberculosis. In the case of MoaX, post-translational cleavage at the Gly82 residue is required for function.


Kana BD, Karakousis PC, Parish T, Dick T. 2014. Future target-based drug discovery for tuberculosis? Tuberculosis (Edinb). 94(6):551-6.

New drugs that retain potency against multidrug/extensively drug-resistant strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, with the additional benefit of a shortened treatment duration and ease of administration, are urgently needed by tuberculosis (TB) control programs. Efforts to develop this new generation of treatment interventions have been plagued with numerous problems, the most significant being our insufficient understanding of mycobacterial metabolism during disease. This, combined with limited chemical diversity and poor entry of small molecules into the cell, has limited the number of new bioactive agents that result from drug screening efforts. The biochemical, target-driven approach to drug development has been largely abandoned in the TB field, to be replaced by whole-cell or target-based whole-cell screening approaches. In this context, the properties of a good drug target are unclear, since these are directly determined by the ability to find compounds, using current screening algorithms, which are able to kill M. tuberculosis. In this review, we discuss issues related to the identification and validation of drug targets and highlight some key properties for promising targets. Some of these include essentiality for growth, vulnerability, druggability, reduced propensity to evolve drug resistance and target location to facilitate ready access to drugs during chemotherapy. We present these in the context of recent drugs that have emerged through various approaches with the aim of consolidating the knowledge gained from these experiences to inform future efforts.


Williams MJ, Shanley CA, Zilavy A, Peixoto B, Manca C, Kaplan G, Orme IM, Mizrahi V, Kana BD. 2015. bis-Molybdopterin guanine dinucleotide is required for persistence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in guinea pigs. Infect Immun. 83(2):544-50.

Mycobacterium tuberculosis is able to synthesize molybdopterin cofactor (MoCo), which is utilized by numerous enzymes that catalyze redox reactions in carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur metabolism. In bacteria, MoCo is further modified through the activity of a guanylyltransferase, MobA, which converts MoCo to bis-molybdopterin guanine dinucleotide (bis-MGD), a form of the cofactor that is required by the dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO) reductase family of enzymes, which includes the nitrate reductase NarGHI. In this study, the functionality of the mobA homolog in M. tuberculosis was confirmed by demonstrating the loss of assimilatory and respiratory nitrate reductase activity in a mobA deletion mutant. This mutant displayed no survival defects in human monocytes or mouse lungs but failed to persist in the lungs of guinea pigs. These results implicate one or more bis-MGD-dependent enzymes in the persistence of M. tuberculosis in guinea pig lungs and underscore the applicability of this animal model for assessing the role of molybdoenzymes in this pathogen.


Machowski EE, Senzani S, Ealand C, Kana BD. 2014. Comparative genomics for mycobacterial peptidoglycan remodelling enzymes reveals extensive genetic multiplicity. BMC Microbiol. 14:75.


Mycobacteria comprise diverse species including non-pathogenic, environmental organisms, animal disease agents and human pathogens, notably Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Considering that the mycobacterial cell wall constitutes a significant barrier to drug penetration, the aim of this study was to conduct a comparative genomics analysis of the repertoire of enzymes involved in peptidoglycan (PG) remodelling to determine the potential of exploiting this area of bacterial metabolism for the discovery of new drug targets.


We conducted an in silico analysis of 19 mycobacterial species/clinical strains for the presence of genes encoding resuscitation promoting factors (Rpfs), penicillin binding proteins, endopeptidases, L,D-transpeptidases and N-acetylmuramoyl-L-alanine amidases. Our analysis reveals extensive genetic multiplicity, allowing for classification of mycobacterial species into three main categories, primarily based on their rpf gene complement. These include the M. tuberculosis Complex (MTBC), other pathogenic mycobacteria and environmental species. The complement of these genes within the MTBC and other mycobacterial pathogens is highly conserved. In contrast, environmental strains display significant genetic expansion in most of these gene families. Mycobacterium leprae retains more than one functional gene from each enzyme family, underscoring the importance of genetic multiplicity for PG remodelling. Notably, the highest degree of conservation is observed for N-acetylmuramoyl-L-alanine amidases suggesting that these enzymes are essential for growth and survival.


PG remodelling enzymes in a range of mycobacterial species are associated with extensive genetic multiplicity, suggesting functional diversification within these families of enzymes to allow organisms to adapt.


Black PA, Warren RM, Louw GE, van Helden PD, Victor TC, Kana BD. 2014. Energy metabolism and drug efflux in Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Antimicrob Agents Chemother.  58(5):2491-503.

The inherent drug susceptibility of microorganisms is determined by multiple factors, including growth state, the rate of drug diffusion into and out of the cell, and the intrinsic vulnerability of drug targets with regard to the corresponding antimicrobial agent. Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of tuberculosis (TB), remains a significant source of global morbidity and mortality, further exacerbated by its ability to readily evolve drug resistance. It is well accepted that drug resistance in M. tuberculosis is driven by the acquisition of chromosomal mutations in genes encoding drug targets/promoter regions; however, a comprehensive description of the molecular mechanisms that fuel drug resistance in the clinical setting is currently lacking. In this context, there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that active extrusion of drugs from the cell is critical for drug tolerance. M. tuberculosis encodes representatives of a diverse range of multidrug transporters, many of which are dependent on the proton motive force (PMF) or the availability of ATP. This suggests that energy metabolism and ATP production through the PMF, which is established by the electron transport chain (ETC), are critical in determining the drug susceptibility of M. tuberculosis. In this review, we detail advances in the study of the mycobacterial ETC and highlight drugs that target various components of the ETC. We provide an overview of some of the efflux pumps present in M. tuberculosis and their association, if any, with drug transport and concomitant effects on drug resistance. The implications of inhibiting drug extrusion, through the use of efflux pump inhibitors, are also discussed.


Moolla N, Goosens VJ, Kana BD, Gordhan BG. 2014. The contribution of Nth and Nei DNA glycosylases to mutagenesis in Mycobacterium smegmatis. DNA Repair (Amst). 13:32-41

The increased prevalence of drug resistant strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) indicates that significant mutagenesis occurs during tuberculosis disease in humans. DNA damage by host-derived reactive oxygen/nitrogen species is hypothesized to be critical for the mutagenic process in Mtb thus, highlighting an important role for DNA repair enzymes in maintenance of genome fidelity. Formamidopyrimidine (Fpg/MutM/Fapy) and EndonucleaseVIII (Nei) constitute the Fpg/Nei family of DNA glycosylases and together with EndonucleaseIII (Nth) are central to the base excision repair pathway in bacteria. In this study we assess the contribution of Nei and Nth DNA repair enzymes in Mycobacterium smegmatis (Msm), which retains a single nth homologue and duplications of the Fpg (fpg1 and fpg2) and Nei (nei1 and nei2) homologues. Using an Escherichia coli nth deletion mutant, we confirm the functionality of the mycobacterial nth gene in the base excision repair pathway. Msm mutants lacking nei1, nei2 and nth individually or in combination did not display aberrant growth in broth culture. Deletion of nth individually results in increased UV-induced mutagenesis and combinatorial deletion with the nei homologues results in reduced survival under oxidative stress conditions and an increase in spontaneous mutagenesis to rifampicin. Deletion of nth together with the fpg homolgues did not result in any growth/survival defects or changes in mutation rate. Furthermore, no differential emergence of the common rifampicin resistance conferring genotypes were noted. Collectively, these data confirm a role for Nth in base excision repair in mycobacteria and further highlight a novel interplay between the Nth and Nei homologues in spontaneous mutagenesis.


Williams M, Mizrahi V, Kana BD. Molybdenum cofactor: a key component of Mycobacterium tuberculosis pathogenesis? Crit Rev Microbiol. 40(1):18-29.

Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) and other members of the Mtb complex possess an expanded complement of genes for the biosynthesis of molybdenum cofactor (MoCo), a tricyclic pterin molecule that is covalently attached to molybdate. This cofactor allows the redox properties of molybdenum to be harnessed by enzymes in order to catalyze redox reactions in carbon, nitrogen and sulfur metabolism. In this article, we summarize recent advances in elucidating the MoCo biosynthetic pathway in Mtb and highlight the evidence implicating the biosynthesis of this cofactor, as well as the enzymes that depend upon it for activity, in Mtb pathogenesis.