World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Mycolic acid

Article Id: WHEBN0004561538
Reproduction Date:

Title: Mycolic acid  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Aldesulfone sodium, Acedapsone, Capreomycin, Rifapentine, Rifabutin
Collection: Cyclopropanes, Fatty Acids
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Mycolic acid

Mycolic acids are long fatty acids found in the cell walls of the mycolata taxon, a group of bacteria that includes Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative agent of the disease tuberculosis. They form the major component of the cell wall of mycolata species. Despite their name, mycolic acids have no biological link to fungi; the name arises from the filamentous appearance their presence gives mycolata under high magnification. The presence of mycolic acids in the cell wall also gives mycolata a distinct gross morphological trait known as "cording." Mycolic acids were first isolated by Stodola et al. in 1938 from an extract of M. tuberculosis.

Mycolic acids are composed of a longer beta-hydroxy chain with a shorter alpha-alkyl side chain. Each molecule contains between 60 and 90 carbon atoms. The exact number of carbons varies by species and can be used as an identification aid. Most mycolic acids also contain various functional groups.


  • Mycolic acids of M. tuberculosis 1
  • Clinical relevance 2
  • Mycolic acids of Rhodococcus sp. 3
  • References 4
  • Further reading 5
  • External links 6

Mycolic acids of M. tuberculosis

Mycolic acids in Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

ketone groups.

The presence of mycolic acids gives M. tuberculosis many characteristics that defy medical treatment. They lend the organism increased resistance to chemical damage and dehydration, and prevent the effective activity of hydrophobic antibiotics. In addition, the mycolic acids allow the bacterium to grow readily inside macrophages, effectively hiding it from the host's immune system. Mycolate biosynthesis is crucial for survival and pathogenesis of M. tuberculosis. The pathway and enzymes have been elucidated and reported in detail.[1][2] Five distinct stages are involved. These were summarised as follows:[3]

  • Synthesis of the C26 saturated straight chain fatty acids by the enzyme fatty acid synthase-I (FAS-I) to provide the α-alkyl branch of the mycolic acids;
  • Synthesis of the C56 fatty acids by FAS-II providing the meromycolate backbone;
  • Introduction of functional groups to the meromycolate chain by numerous cyclopropane synthases;
  • Condensation reaction catalysed by the polyketide synthase Pks13 between the α-branch and the meromycolate chain before a final reduction by the enzyme corynebacterineae mycolate reductase A (CmrA)[4] to generate the mycolic acid; and
  • Transfer of mycolic acids to arabinogalactan and other acceptors such as trehalose via the antigen 85 complex

The fatty acid synthase-I and fatty acid synthase-II pathways producing mycolic acids are linked by the beta-ketoacyl-(acyl-carrier-protein) synthase III enzyme, often designated as mtFabH. Novel inhibitors of this enzyme could potentially be used as therapeutic agents.

The mycolic acids show interesting inflammation controlling properties. A clear tolerogenic response was promoted by natural mycolic acids in experimental cellular immune response (Th1 and Th17), so studies are ongoing to use this subclass as an adjuvant for vaccination.

The exact structure of mycolic acids appears to be closely linked to the virulence of the organism, as modification of the functional groups of the molecule can lead to an attenuation of growth in vivo. Further, individuals with mutations in genes responsible for mycolic acid synthesis exhibit altered cording.

Clinical relevance

An international multi-centre study has proved that delamanid (OPC-67683), a new agent derived from the nitro-dihydro-imidazooxazole class of compounds that inhibits mycolic acid synthesis, can increase the rate of sputum culture conversion in multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDRTB) at 2 months.[6]

Mycolic acids of Rhodococcus sp.

The mycolic acids of members of the genus Rhodococcus, another member of the mycolata taxon, differ in several ways from those of M. tuberculosis. They contain no functional groups, but instead may have several unsaturated bonds. Two different profiles of Rhodococcus mycolic acids exist. The first has between 28 and 46 carbon atoms with either 0 or 1 unsaturated bonds. The second has between 34 and 54 carbon atoms with between 0 and 4 unsaturated bonds. Sutcliffe (1998) has proposed that they are linked to the rest of the cell wall by arabinogalactan molecules.


  1. ^ Takayama, K.; Wang, C.; Besra, G. S. (2005). "Pathway to Synthesis and Processing of Mycolic Acids in Mycobacterium tuberculosis". Clinical Microbiology Reviews 18 (1): 81–101.  
  2. ^ Raman, K.; Rajagopalan, P.; Chandra, N. (2005). "Flux Balance Analysis of Mycolic Acid Pathway: Targets for Anti-Tubercular Drugs". PLoS Computational Biology 1 (5): e46.  
  3. ^ Bhatt, A.; Molle, V.; Besra, G. S.; Jacobs, W. R.; Kremer, L. (2007). "The Mycobacterium tuberculosis FAS-II condensing enzymes: Their role in mycolic acid biosynthesis, acid-fastness, pathogenesis and in future drug development". Molecular Microbiology 64 (6): 1442–1454.  
  4. ^ David J, Lea-Smith J; James S. Pyke, Dedreia Tull, Malcolm J. McConville, Ross L. Coppel and Paul K. Crellin (2007). "The Reductase That Catalyzes Mycolic Motif Synthesis Is Required for Efficient Attachment of Mycolic Acids to Arabinogalactan". Journal of Biological Chemistry 282 (15): 11000–11008.  
  5. ^ Korf, J. E.; Pynaert, G.; Tournoy, K.; Boonefaes, T.; Van Oosterhout, A.; Ginneberge, D.; Haegeman, A.; Verschoor, J. A.; De Baetselier, P.; Grooten, J. (2006). "Macrophage Reprogramming by Mycolic Acid Promotes a Tolerogenic Response in Experimental Asthma". American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine 174 (2): 152–160.  
  6. ^ Gler, M. T.; Skripconoka, V.; Sanchez-Garavito, E.; Xiao, H.; Cabrera-Rivero, J. L.; Vargas-Vasquez, D. E.; Gao, M.; Awad, M.; Park, S. K.; Shim, T. S.; Suh, G. Y.; Danilovits, M.; Ogata, H.; Kurve, A.; Chang, J.; Suzuki, K.; Tupasi, T.; Koh, W. J.; Seaworth, B.; Geiter, L. J.; Wells, C. D. (2012). "Delamanid for Multidrug-Resistant Pulmonary Tuberculosis". New England Journal of Medicine 366 (23): 2151–2160.  

Further reading

  • Barry Ce, 3.; Lee, R. E.; Mdluli, K.; Sampson, A. E.; Schroeder, B. G.; Slayden, R. A.; Yuan, Y. (1998). "Mycolic acids: Structure, biosynthesis and physiological functions". Progress in lipid research 37 (2–3): 143–179.  
  • Nishiuchi, Y.; Baba, T.; Yano, I. (2000). "Mycolic acids from Rhodococcus, Gordonia, and Dietzia". Journal of microbiological methods 40 (1): 1–9.  
  • Sutcliffe, I. C. (1998). "Cell envelope composition and organisation in the genus Rhodococcus". Antonie van Leeuwenhoek 74 (1–3): 49–58.  
  • Langford, K. W.; Penkov, B.; Derrington, I. M.; Gundlach, J. H. (2010). "Unsupported planar lipid membranes formed from mycolic acids of Mycobacterium tuberculosis". The Journal of Lipid Research 52 (2): 272–277.  

External links

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.