Major roles of isocitrate lyase and malate synthase in bacterial and fungal pathogenesis

Microbiology. 2009 Oct;155(Pt 10):3166-3175. doi: 10.1099/mic.0.030858-0. Epub 2009 Aug 14.


The glyoxylate cycle is an anaplerotic pathway of the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle that allows growth on C(2) compounds by bypassing the CO(2)-generating steps of the TCA cycle. The unique enzymes of this route are isocitrate lyase (ICL) and malate synthase (MS). ICL cleaves isocitrate to glyoxylate and succinate, and MS converts glyoxylate and acetyl-CoA to malate. The end products of the bypass can be used for gluconeogenesis and other biosynthetic processes. The glyoxylate cycle occurs in Eukarya, Bacteria and Archaea. Recent studies of ICL- and MS-deficient strains as well as proteomic and transcriptional analyses show that these enzymes are often important in human, animal and plant pathogenesis. These studies have extended our understanding of the metabolic pathways essential for the survival of pathogens inside the host and provide a more complete picture of the physiology of pathogenic micro-organisms. Hopefully, the recent knowledge generated about the role of the glyoxylate cycle in virulence can be used for the development of new vaccines, or specific inhibitors to combat bacterial and fungal diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria / enzymology*
  • Bacteria / pathogenicity*
  • Fungi / enzymology*
  • Fungi / pathogenicity*
  • Humans
  • Isocitrate Lyase / physiology*
  • Malate Synthase / physiology*
  • Virulence Factors / physiology*


  • Virulence Factors
  • Malate Synthase
  • Isocitrate Lyase