Vitamin B12 uptake across the mycobacterial outer membrane is influenced by membrane permeability in Mycobacterium marinum

Beatriz Izquierdo Lafuente, Theo Verboom, Sita Coenraads, Roy Ummels, Wilbert Bitter, Alexander Speer

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    Vitamin B12 (B12) serves as a critical cofactor within mycobacterial metabolism. While some pathogenic strains can synthesize B12 de novo, others rely on host-acquired B12. In this investigation, we studied the transport of vitamin B12 in Mycobacterium marinum using B12-auxotrophic and B12-sensitive strains by deleting metH or metE, respectively. These two enzymes rely on B12 in different ways to function as methionine synthases. We used these strains to select mutants affecting B12 scavenging and confirmed their phenotypes during growth experiments in vitro. Our analysis of B12 uptake mechanisms revealed that membrane lipids and cell wall integrity play an essential role in cell envelope transport. Furthermore, we identified a potential transcription regulator that responds to B12. Our study demonstrates that M. marinum can take up exogenous B12 and that altering mycobacterial membrane integrity affects B12 uptake. Finally, during zebrafish infection using B12-auxotrophic and B12-sensitive strains, we found that B12 is available for virulent mycobacteria in vivo. IMPORTANCE Our study investigates how mycobacteria acquire essential vitamin B12. These microbes, including those causing tuberculosis, face challenges in nutrient uptake due to their strong outer layer. We focused on Mycobacterium marinum, similar to TB bacteria, to uncover its vitamin B12 absorption. We used modified strains unable to produce their own B12 and discovered that M. marinum can indeed absorb it from the environment, even during infections. Changes in the outer layer composition affect this process, and genes related to membrane integrity play key roles. These findings illuminate the interaction between mycobacteria and their environment, offering insights into combatting diseases like tuberculosis through innovative strategies. Our concise research underscores the pivotal role of vitamin B12 in microbial survival and its potential applications in disease control.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-19
    Number of pages19
    JournalMicrobiology spectrum
    Issue number6
    Early online date9 May 2024
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2024


    • KEYWORDS mycobacteria
    • cell wall
    • cobalamin
    • nutrient acquisition
    • vitamin B

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