Mycolic acids are an important constituent of the mycobacterial cell wall. Changes in the structure or composition of mycolic acids have been associated with modification of cell wall permeability and attenuation of pathogenic Mycobacterium tuberculosis strains. This unit describes the isolation of M. tuberculosis mycolic acids and their analysis by either thin-layer chromatography or high-performance liquid chromatography. Both techniques have been extensively used to study (1) mycolic acid biosynthesis, (2) the role of mycolic acids in mycobacterial virulence, (3) the effect of antituberculosis drugs targeting the cell wall, and (4) taxonomic purposes.
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