Cyclopropanation of α-mycolic acids is not required for cording in Mycobacterium brumae and Mycobacterium fallax

Cecilia Brambilla, Alejandro Sánchez-Chardi, Míriam Pérez-Trujillo, Esther Julián, Marina Luquin

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6 Citations (Scopus)


The capacity to form microscopic cords (cording) of Mycobacterium species has been related to their virulence. The compounds responsible for cording are unknown, but a recent study has shown that cording could be related to the fine structure of α-mycolic acids. This investigation attributes the need for a proximal cyclopropane in α-mycolic acids for cording in Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Mycobacterium bovis BCG and proposes cyclopropanases as good targets for new chemotherapeutic agents. As other Mycobacterium species in addition to M. tuberculosis and M. bovis form microscopic cords, it would be of major interest to know whether the relationship between proximal cyclopropanation of α-mycolic acids and cording could be extended to non-tuberculous mycobacteria. In this study, we have examined the correlation between the cording and cyclopropanation of α-mycolic acids in two species, Mycobacterium brumae and Mycobacterium fallax. Scanning electron microscopy images showed, for the first time to our knowledge, the fine structure of microscopic cords of M. brumae and M. fallax, confirming that these two species form true cords. Furthermore, NMR analysis performed on the same cording cultures corroborates the absence of cyclopropane rings in their α-mycolic acids. Therefore, we can conclude that the correlation between cording and cyclopropanation of amycolic acids cannot be extended to all mycobacteria. As M. brumae and M. fallax grow rapidly and have a simple pattern of mycolic acids (only α-unsaturated mycolic acids), we propose these two species as suitable models for the study of the role of mycolic acids in cording. © 2012 Society for General Microbiology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1615-1621
JournalMicrobiology (United Kingdom)
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2012


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