Total mycolic acid methyl ester fractions were isolated from 24 representatives of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Mycobacterium bovis (including BCG), Mycobacterium microti, Mycobacterium kansasii and Mycobacterium avium. The total mycolate functional group composition was estimated from 1H-NMR spectra. Mycolates were separated into α-mycolates, methoxymycolates and ketomycolates and each class was further separated by argentation chromatography into mycolates with no double bonds, with one trans-double bond and with one cis-double bond. Mass spectrometry revealed the mycolate chain lengths and 1H-NMR the cis- and trans-double bond and cyclopropane ring content. The same species had similar mycolate profiles; the major type of each class had cis- or trans-cyclopropane rings and lacked double bonds. Minor proportions of possible unsaturated precursors of the cyclopropane mycolates were commonly encountered. Among unusual α-mycolates, many strains had tricyclopropyl components with chains extended by 6 to 8 carbons. Significantly, M. tuberculosis (Canetti) and M. avium had α-mycolates with a trans-double bond and cyclopropane ring, whose chain lengths suggested a relationship to possible precursors of oxygenated mycolates. The methoxy- and ketomycolates from a majority of M. tuberculosis strains had minor amounts of components with additional cyclopropane rings, some of whose chains were also extended by 6 to 8 carbons. These latter mycolates were major components in the attenuated M. tuberculosis H37Ra strain, whose mycolate profile was distinct from those of other strains of M. tuberculosis.
N 3-(4-Methoxyfumaroyl)-l-2,3-diaminopropanoic acid (FMDP), a specific and potent inactivator of glucosamine-6-phosphate (GlcN-6-P) synthase from Candida albicans, exhibits relatively poor anticandidal activity, with an MIC value amounting to 50 μg ml−1 (200 μM). Uptake of FMDP into C. albicans cells follows saturation kinetics and is sensitive to the action of metabolic inhibitors, thus indicating the active transport mechanism. However, the acetoxymethyl ester of FMDP penetrates the fungal cell membrane by free diffusion and is rapidly hydrolysed by C. albicans cytoplasmic enzymes to release the free FMDP. This mechanism gives rise to continuous accumulation of the enzyme inhibitor and results in higher antifungal activity of the FMDP ester (MIC=3·1 μg ml−1, 10 μM). These results show that the ‘pro-drug’ approach can be successfully applied for the enhancement of antifungal activity of glutamine analogues that inhibit GlcN-6-P synthase.