Trafficking pathways of mycolic acids: Structures, origin, mechanism of formation, and storage form of mycobacteric acids

Elie Rafidinarivo, Marie Antoinette Lanéelle, Henri Montrozier, Pedro Valero-Guillén, José Astola, Marina Luquin, Jean Claude Promé, Mamadou Daffé

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Mycolic acids, the hallmark of mycobacteria and related bacteria, are major and specific components of their cell envelope and essential for the mycobacterial survival. Mycobacteria contain structurally related long-chain lipids, but the metabolic relationships between these various classes of compounds remain obscure. To address this question a series of C35 to C54 nonhydroxylated fatty acids (mycobacteric acids), ketones, and alcohols structurally related to the C70-80 dicyclopropanated or diethylenic mycolic acids were characterized in three mycobacterial strains and their structures compared. The relationships between these longchain acids and mycolic acids were established by following the in vivo traffic of 14C labeled a-mycolic acids purified from the same mycobacterial species. The labeling was exclusively found in mycobacteric acids. The mechanism of this degradation was established by incorporation of 18O2 into long-chain lipids and shown to consist in the rupture of mycolic acids between carbon 3 and 4 by a Baeyer-Villiger-like reaction. We also demonstrated that mycobacteric acids occur exclusively in the triacylglycerol (TAG) fraction where one molecule of these acids esterifies one of the three hydroxyl groups of glycerol. Altogether, these data suggest that these compounds represent a pathway of metabolic energy that would be used by mycobacteria in particular circumstances. Copyright © 2009 by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)477-490
JournalJournal of Lipid Research
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2009


  • Baeyer-Villiger reaction
  • Biosynthesis
  • Catabolism
  • Mycobacteria
  • Oxidation


Dive into the research topics of 'Trafficking pathways of mycolic acids: Structures, origin, mechanism of formation, and storage form of mycobacteric acids'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this