2015 IPFW Student Research and Creative Endeavor Symposium


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Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Jaiyanth Daniel


Department of Biology

University Affiliation

Indiana University – Purdue University Fort Wayne


Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease that affects about two billion people and is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) which destroys pulmonary tissue and ultimately causes death, if left untreated. Modern antibiotics such as rifampicin and isoniazid have proven futile against Mtb when it goes into its dormant state under hypoxic conditions in the human body. Under such conditions, Mtb is thought to survive because of its ability to metabolize host lipids. Mtb is able to create a reservoir of triacylglycerol (TAG) by cleaving fatty acids from macrophage TAG, transporting them inside the phagosome, and subsequently reattaching the acyl groups to a glycerol backbone. The genes involved in coordinating this process are thought to play a crucial role in the survival of the bacteria. Although the gene associated with the final step of the acyltransferase pathway that attaches the third acyl group to the glycerol backbone has been studied, the genes involved in attachment of the first and second acyl groups have not been studied even though they are essential to the pathway. Therefore, we have cloned the acyltransferase gene (mGPAT1) that catalyzes the first step of the pathway and expressed the protein Escherichia coli in order to understand how mGPAT1 functions. Our initial findings suggest that mGPAT1 makes a difference in the ability of E. coli to utilize long-chain fatty acids. Our observations indicate that the E. coli expressing mGPAT1 continued to proliferate while E. coli lacking the gene entered stationary phase. Our results suggest that the mycobacterial acyltransferase enhances the ability of E. coli to utilize long-chain fatty acids as a carbon source after the media is depleted of other carbon sources. Future experiments will be aimed at confirming this finding and examining potential changes in the lipid metabolism of E. coli expressing the mycobacterial acyltransferase.


Biology | Life Sciences

Examining the Role of a Mycobacterial Acyltransferase Gene in the Metabolism of Long-Chain Fatty Acids

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