The primary step of biotin synthesis in mycobacteria

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Biotin plays an essential role in growth of mycobacteria. Synthesis of the cofactor is essential for Mycobacterium tuberculosis to establish and maintain chronic infections in a murine model of tuberculosis. Although the late steps of mycobacterial biotin synthesis, assembly of the heterocyclic rings, are thought to follow the canonical pathway, the mechanism of synthesis of the pimelic acid moiety that contributes most of the biotin carbon atoms is unknown. We report that the Mycobacterium smegmatis gene annotated as encoding Tam, an O-methyltransferase that monomethylates and detoxifies trans-aconitate, instead encodes a protein having the activity of BioC, an O-methyltransferase that methylates the free carboxyl of malonyl-ACP. The M. smegmatis Tam functionally replaced Escherichia coli BioC both in vivo and in vitro. Moreover, deletion of the M. smegmatis tam gene resulted in biotin auxotrophy, and addition of biotin to M. smegmatis cultures repressed tam gene transcription. Although its pathogenicity precluded in vivo studies, the M. tuberculosis Tam also replaced E. coli BioC both in vivo and in vitro and complemented biotin-independent growth of the M. smegmatis tam deletion mutant strain. Based on these data, we propose that the highly conserved mycobacterial tam genes be renamed bioC. M. tuberculosis BioC presents a target for antituberculosis drugs which thus far have been directed at late reactions in the pathway with some success.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23794-23801
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number38
StatePublished - Sep 22 2020


  • Biotin
  • Ligation
  • Mycobacteria
  • O-methyltransferase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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