A common mechanism of inhibition of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis mycolic acid biosynthetic pathway by isoxyl and thiacetazone. Academic Article uri icon



  • Isoxyl (ISO) and thiacetazone (TAC), two prodrugs once used in the clinical treatment of tuberculosis, have long been thought to abolish Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tuberculosis) growth through the inhibition of mycolic acid biosynthesis, but their respective targets in this pathway have remained elusive. Here we show that treating M. tuberculosis with ISO or TAC results in both cases in the accumulation of 3-hydroxy C(18), C(20), and C(22) fatty acids, suggestive of an inhibition of the dehydratase step of the fatty-acid synthase type II elongation cycle. Consistently, overexpression of the essential hadABC genes encoding the (3R)-hydroxyacyl-acyl carrier protein dehydratases resulted in more than a 16- and 80-fold increase in the resistance of M. tuberculosis to ISO and TAC, respectively. A missense mutation in the hadA gene of spontaneous ISO- and TAC-resistant mutants was sufficient to confer upon M. tuberculosis high level resistance to both drugs. Other mutations found in hypersusceptible or resistant M. tuberculosis and Mycobacterium kansasii isolates mapped to hadC. Mutations affecting the non-essential mycolic acid methyltransferases MmaA4 and MmaA2 were also found in M. tuberculosis spontaneous ISO- and TAC-resistant mutants. That MmaA4, at least, participates in the activation of the two prodrugs as proposed earlier is not supported by our biochemical evidence. Instead and in light of the known interactions of both MmaA4 and MmaA2 with HadAB and HadBC, we propose that mutations affecting these enzymes may impact the binding of ISO and TAC to the dehydratases.

publication date

  • September 21, 2012



  • Mycobacterium bovis
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis
  • Mycolic Acids
  • Phenylthiourea
  • Thioacetazone


PubMed Central ID

  • PMC3493888

Scopus Document Identifier

  • 84869029377

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1074/jbc.M112.400994

PubMed ID

  • 23002234

Additional Document Info


  • 287


  • 46