Variant tricarboxylic acid cycle in Mycobacterium tuberculosis: identification of alpha-ketoglutarate decarboxylase.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) has adapted its metabolism for persistence in the human macrophage. The adaptations are likely to involve Mtb's core intermediary metabolism, whose enzymes have been little studied. The tricarboxylic acid cycle is expected to yield precursors for energy, lipids, amino acids, and heme. The genome sequence of Mtb H37Rv predicts the presence of a complete tricarboxylic acid cycle, but we recently found that alpha-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase (KDH) activity is lacking in Mtb lysates. Here we showed that citrate synthase, aconitase, isocitrate dehydrogenase, fumarase, malate dehydrogenase, and succinate dehydrogenase, but not KDH, are present, raising the possibility of separate oxidative and reductive half-cycles. As a potential link between the half-cycles, we found that Rv1248c, annotated as encoding SucA, the putative E1 component of KDH, instead encodes alpha-ketoglutarate decarboxylase (Kgd) and produces succinic semialdehyde. Succinic semialdehyde dehydrogenase activity was detected in Mtb lysates and recapitulated with recombinant proteins GabD1 (encoded by Rv0234c) and GabD2 (encoded by Rv1731). Kgd and GabD1 or GabD2 form an alternative pathway from alpha-ketoglutarate to succinate. Rv1248c, which is essential or required for normal growth of Mtb [Sassetti, C., Boyd, D. H. & Rubin, E. J. (2003) Mol. Microbiol 48, 77-84] is the first gene shown to encode a Kgd. Kgd is lacking in humans and may represent a potential target for chemotherapy of tuberculosis.