Metabolic adaptation to the host environment is a defining feature of the pathogenicity of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), but we lack biochemical knowledge of its metabolic networks. Many bacteria use catabolite repression as a regulatory mechanism to maximize growth by consuming individual carbon substrates in a preferred sequence and growing with diauxic kinetics. Surprisingly, untargeted metabolite profiling of Mtb growing on ¹³C-labeled carbon substrates revealed that Mtb could catabolize multiple carbon sources simultaneously to achieve enhanced monophasic growth. Moreover, when co-catabolizing multiple carbon sources, Mtb differentially catabolized each carbon source through the glycolytic, pentose phosphate, and/or tricarboxylic acid pathways to distinct metabolic fates. This unusual topologic organization of bacterial intermediary metabolism has not been previously observed and may subserve the pathogenicity of Mtb.
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