Bioorthogonal chemical reporters for selective in situ probing of mycomembrane components in mycobacteria

Hannah N. Foley, Jessica A. Stewart, Herbert W. Kavunja, Sarah R. Rundell, Benjamin M. Swarts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


The global pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis and other species in the suborder Corynebacterineae possess a distinctive outer membrane called the mycomembrane (MM). The MM is composed of mycolic acids, which are either covalently linked to an underlying arabinogalactan layer or incorporated into trehalose glycolipids that associate with the MM non-covalently. These structures are generated through a process called mycolylation, which is central to mycobacterial physiology and pathogenesis and is an important target for tuberculosis drug development. Current approaches to investigating mycolylation rely on arduous analytical methods that occur outside the context of a whole cell. Herein, we describe mycobacteria-specific chemical reporters that can selectively probe either covalent arabinogalactan mycolates or non-covalent trehalose mycolates in live mycobacteria. These probes, in conjunction with bioorthogonal chemistry, enable selective insitu detection of the major MM components.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2053-2057
Number of pages5
JournalAngewandte Chemie - International Edition
Issue number6
StatePublished - Feb 5 2016


  • click chemistry
  • fluorescent probes
  • lipids
  • mycobacteria
  • trehalose


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