Disruption of Mycobacterial AftB Results in Complete Loss of Terminal β(1 → 2) Arabinofuranose Residues of Lipoarabinomannan
Lipoarabinomannan (LAM) and arabinogalactan (AG) are the two major mycobacterial cell wall (lipo)polysaccharides, which contain a structurally similar arabinan domain that is highly branched and assembled in a stepwise fashion by variety of arabinofuranosyltransferases (Ara f T). In addition to playing an essential role in mycobacterial physiology, LAM and its biochemical precursor lipomannan possess potent immunomodulatory activities that affect the host immune response. In the search of additional mycobacterial Ara f Ts that participate in the synthesis of the arabinan segment of LAM, we disrupted aftB ( MSMEG_6400 ) in Mycobacterium smegmatis . The deletion of chromosomal aftB locus could only be achieved in the presence of a rescue plasmid carrying a functional copy of aftB , strongly suggesting that it is essential for the viability of M. smegmatis . Isolation and detailed structural characterization of a LAM molecule derived from the conditional mutant deficient in AftB revealed the absence of terminal β(1 → 2)-linked arabinofuranosyl residues. Furthermore, we demonstrated that truncated LAM displays proinflammatory activity, which is due to its ability to activate Toll-like receptor 2. All together, our results indicate that AftB is an essential mycobacterial Ara f T that plays a role in the synthesis of the arabinan domain of LAM. Graphic Abstract ACS Electronic Supporting Info
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