Enterococcus faecalis Encodes an Atypical Auxiliary Acyl Carrier Protein Required for Efficient Regulation of Fatty Acid Synthesis by Exogenous Fatty Acids

mBio. 2019 May 7;10(3):e00577-19. doi: 10.1128/mBio.00577-19.


Acyl carrier proteins (ACPs) play essential roles in the synthesis of fatty acids and transfer of long fatty acyl chains into complex lipids. The Enterococcus faecalis genome contains two annotated acp genes, called acpA and acpB AcpA is encoded within the fatty acid synthesis (fab) operon and appears essential. In contrast, AcpB is an atypical ACP, having only 30% residue identity with AcpA, and is not essential. Deletion of acpB has no effect on E. faecalis growth or de novo fatty acid synthesis in media lacking fatty acids. However, unlike the wild-type strain, where growth with oleic acid resulted in almost complete blockage of de novo fatty acid synthesis, the ΔacpB strain largely continued de novo fatty acid synthesis under these conditions. Blockage in the wild-type strain is due to repression of fab operon transcription, leading to levels of fatty acid synthetic proteins (including AcpA) that are insufficient to support de novo synthesis. Transcription of the fab operon is regulated by FabT, a repressor protein that binds DNA only when it is bound to an acyl-ACP ligand. Since AcpA is encoded in the fab operon, its synthesis is blocked when the operon is repressed and acpA thus cannot provide a stable supply of ACP for synthesis of the acyl-ACP ligand required for DNA binding by FabT. In contrast to AcpA, acpB transcription is unaffected by growth with exogenous fatty acids and thus provides a stable supply of ACP for conversion to the acyl-ACP ligand required for repression by FabT. Indeed, ΔacpB and ΔfabT strains have essentially the same de novo fatty acid synthesis phenotype in oleic acid-grown cultures, which argues that neither strain can form the FabT-acyl-ACP repression complex. Finally, acylated derivatives of both AcpB and AcpA were substrates for the E. faecalis enoyl-ACP reductases and for E. faecalis PlsX (acyl-ACP; phosphate acyltransferase).IMPORTANCE AcpB homologs are encoded by many, but not all, lactic acid bacteria (Lactobacillales), including many members of the human microbiome. The mechanisms regulating fatty acid synthesis by exogenous fatty acids play a key role in resistance of these bacteria to those antimicrobials targeted at fatty acid synthesis enzymes. Defective regulation can increase resistance to such inhibitors and also reduce pathogenesis.

Keywords: FabT; acyl carrier protein; fatty acid synthesis; phospholipids; transcriptional regulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Acyl Carrier Protein / genetics
  • Acyl Carrier Protein / metabolism*
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Biosynthetic Pathways
  • Enterococcus faecalis / genetics
  • Enterococcus faecalis / metabolism*
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Operon


  • Acyl Carrier Protein
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Fatty Acids