University of Surrey

Test tubes in the lab Research in the ATI Dance Research

Ancient mycobacterial lipids: Key reference biomarkers in charting the evolution of tuberculosis.

Minnikin, DE, Lee, OY, Wu, HH, Besra, GS, Bhatt, A, Nataraj, V, Rothschild, BM, Spigelman, M and Donoghue, HD (2015) Ancient mycobacterial lipids: Key reference biomarkers in charting the evolution of tuberculosis. Tuberculosis (Edinb), 95 Sup. S133-S139.

Full text not available from this repository.


Mycobacterium tuberculosis has a cell envelope incorporating a peptidoglycan-linked arabinogalactan esterified by long-chain mycolic acids. A range of "free" lipids are associated with the "bound" mycolic acids, producing an effective envelope outer membrane. The distribution of these lipids is discontinuous among mycobacteria and such lipids have proven potential for biomarker use in tracing the evolution of tuberculosis. A plausible evolutionary scenario involves progression from an environmental organism, such as Mycobacterium kansasii, through intermediate "smooth" tubercle bacilli, labelled "Mycobacterium canettii"; cell envelope lipid composition possibly correlates with such a progression. M. kansasii and "M. canettii" have characteristic lipooligosaccharides, associated with motility and biofilms, and glycosyl phenolphthiocerol dimycocerosates ("phenolic glycolipids"). Both these lipid classes are absent in modern M. tuberculosis sensu stricto, though simplified phenolic glycolipids remain in certain current biotypes. Dimycocerosates of the phthiocerol family are restricted to smaller phthiodiolone diesters in M. kansasii. Diacyl and pentaacyl trehaloses are present in "M. canettii" and M. tuberculosis, accompanied in the latter by related sulfated acyl trehaloses. In comparison with environmental mycobacteria, subtle modifications in mycolic acid structures in "M. canettii" and M. tuberculosis are notable. The probability of essential tuberculosis evolution taking place in Pleistocene megafauna, rather than Homo sapiens, is reemphasised.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Surrey research (other units)
Authors :
Minnikin, DE
Lee, OY
Wu, HH
Besra, GS
Bhatt, A
Rothschild, BM
Spigelman, M
Donoghue, HD
Date : June 2015
DOI : 10.1016/
Uncontrolled Keywords : Biomarkers, Evolution, Lipids, Tuberculosis, Zoonosis, Animals, Biomarkers, Evolution, Molecular, Glycolipids, History, Ancient, Humans, Lipid Metabolism, Membrane Lipids, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Mycolic Acids, Tuberculosis, Zoonoses
Related URLs :
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 17 May 2017 10:29
Last Modified : 24 Jan 2020 19:26

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

Information about this web site

© The University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey, GU2 7XH, United Kingdom.
+44 (0)1483 300800