Antibiotic therapy in response to Mycobacterium tuberculosis infections targets de novo fatty acid biosynthesis, which is orchestrated by a 1.9 MDa type I fatty acid synthase (FAS). Here, we characterize M. tuberculosis FAS by single-particle cryo-electron microscopy and interpret the data by docking the molecular models of yeast and Mycobacterium smegmatis FAS. Our analysis reveals a porous barrel-like structure of considerable conformational variability that is illustrated by the identification of several conformational states with altered topology in the multienzymatic assembly. This demonstrates that the barrel-like structure of M. tuberculosis FAS is not just a static scaffold for the catalytic domains, but may play an active role in coordinating fatty acid synthesis. The conception of M. tuberculosis FAS as a highly dynamic assembly of domains revises the view on bacterial type I fatty acid synthesis and might inspire new strategies for inhibition of de novo fatty acid synthesis in M. tuberculosis.
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