New approaches to target the mycolic acid biosynthesis pathway for the development of tuberculosis therapeutics

E. Jeffrey North, Mary Jackson, Richard E. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Mycolic acids are the major lipid components of the unique mycobacterial cell wall responsible for the protection of the tuberculosis bacilli from many outside threats. Mycolic acids are synthesized in the cytoplasm and transported to the outer membrane as trehalose-containing glycolipids before being esterified to the arabinogalactan portion of the cell wall and outer membrane glycolipids. The large size of these unique fatty acids is a result of a huge metabolic investment that has been evolutionarily conserved, indicating the importance of these lipids to the mycobacterial cellular survival. There are many key enzymes involved in the mycolic acid biosynthetic pathway, including fatty acid synthesis (KasA, KasB, MabA, InhA, HadABC), mycolic acid modifying enzymes (SAM-dependent methyltransferases, aNAT), fatty acid activating and condensing enzymes (FadD32, Acc, Pks13), transporters (MmpL3) and tranferases (Antigen 85A-C) all of which are excellent potential drug targets. Not surprisingly, in recent years many new compounds have been reported to inhibit specific portions of this pathway, discovered through both phenotypic screening and target enzyme screening. In this review, we analyze the new and emerging inhibitors of this pathway discovered in the post-genomic era of tuberculosis drug discovery, several of which show great promise as selective tuberculosis therapeutics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4357-4378
Number of pages22
JournalCurrent Pharmaceutical Design
Issue number27
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery


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