Disruption of mycobactin biosynthesis leads to attenuation of mycobacterium tuberculosis for growth and virulence

P. Vineel Reddy, Rupangi Verma Puri, Priyanka Chauhan, Ritika Kar, Akshay Rohilla, Aparna Khera, Anil K. Tyagi

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107 Scopus citations


Background. Low iron availability in the host upregulates the mbt gene cluster of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which is responsible for mycobactin biosynthesis. However, the biological significance of mycobactins in the growth of this pathogen and in disease progression has not been elucidated.Methods. We have disrupted the mbtE gene (Rv2380c) in the mbt cluster to evaluate the importance of mycobactin biosynthesis in the growth and virulence of M. tuberculosis.Results. The mbtE mutant (MtbΔmbtE) was unable to synthesize mycobactins, displayed an altered colony morphology, and was attenuated for growth in broth culture and in macrophages. Transmission electron microscopy revealed that MtbΔmbtE displayed an altered cell wall permeability. The growth characteristics and colony morphology of MtbΔmbtE were similar to wild type when the medium was supplemented with mycobactins or when MtbΔmbtE was genetically complemented with the mbtE gene. Moreover, guinea pigs infected with MtbΔmbtE exhibited a significantly reduced bacillary load and histopathological damage in the organs, in comparison to M. tuberculosis-infected animals.Conclusions. This study highlights the importance of mycobactins in the growth and virulence of M. tuberculosis and establishes the enzymes of mycobactin biosynthesis as novel targets for the development of therapeutic interventions against tuberculosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1255-1265
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Infectious Diseases
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 15 2013
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments. We thank Graham F. Hatfull and Julia C. van Kessel (University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), for providing reagents for the recombineering method; Bappaditya Dey and Ruchi Jain (UDSC), for their help in designing the guinea pig experiments; Sakshi Dhingra (AIIMS), for helpful discussions concerning macrophage experiments; Dr Raman-deep Singh (THSTI), for help with Southern blotting; and Bahadur Singh, Sandeep Kumar, Priti Singh, and Devender Singh, for technical assistance. P. V. R. and A. R. are thankful to the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India, for financial support. R. V. P., P. C., and R. K. are thankful to the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi, for research fellowships.

Funding Information:
Financial support. This work was supported by the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India. Potential conflicts of interest. All authors: No reported conflicts.


  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis
  • drug targets
  • gene disruption
  • mycobactins
  • pathogenesis


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