A metabolomics approach exploring the function of the ESX-3 type VII secretion system of M. smegmatis
Loots, Du Toit
Meissner-Roloff, Reinart J.
Gey van Pittius, Nicolaas C.
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The genome of Mycobacterium, including Mycobacterium tuberculosis, contains five copies of a cluster of genes encoding a novel type VII secretion system, named the ESX gene cluster region. This ESX-3 gene cluster is essential for in vitro growth and is thought to play a role in iron and zinc homeostasis, however, its exact functionality remains an enigma. A metabolomics research approach was subsequently used to compare the metabolite profiles of a M. smegmatis ESX-3 knockout strain to that a wild type parental strain, in order to elucidate its functionality from a metabolic perspective. Statistical analysis of the GC–MS generated data showed a clear separation between the wild type and knockout sample groups, based on the analysed metabolite profiles of these organisms. Of all the metabolite markers identified, various amino acids and metabolite pathways related to these, appeared to be most affected by the ESX-3 knockout, especially those with enzymes regulated by iron and zinc, supporting previous genomics and proteomics generated hypotheses and findings. This study is the first to demonstrate the capacity of using metabolomics, in conjunction with previous genomics and proteomic findings, to identify underlying metabolic changes and confirm previous hypotheses related to the functionality of ESX-3 in Mycobacterium growth and survival.