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Molecular Mechanism by which Prominent Human Gut Bacteroidetes Utilize Mixed-Linkage Beta-Glucans, Major Health-Promoting Cereal Polysaccharides

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JournalCell reports
DateAccepted/In press - 14 Sep 2017
DatePublished (current) - 10 Oct 2017
Issue number2
Volume21
Number of pages14
Pages (from-to)417-430
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Microbial utilization of complex polysaccharides is a major driving force in shaping the composition of the human gut microbiota. There is a growing appreciation that finely tuned polysaccharide utilization loci enable ubiquitous gut Bacteroidetes to thrive on the plethora of complex polysaccharides that constitute “dietary fiber.” Mixed-linkage β(1,3)/β(1,4)-glucans (MLGs) are a key family of plant cell wall polysaccharides with recognized health benefits but whose mechanism of utilization has remained unclear. Here, we provide molecular insight into the function of an archetypal MLG utilization locus (MLGUL) through a combination of biochemistry, enzymology, structural biology, and microbiology. Comparative genomics coupled with growth studies demonstrated further that syntenic MLGULs serve as genetic markers for MLG catabolism across commensal gut bacteria. In turn, we surveyed human gut metagenomes to reveal that MLGULs are ubiquitous in human populations globally, which underscores the importance of gut microbial metabolism of MLG as a common cereal polysaccharide. Mixed-linkage β(1,3)/β(1,4)-glucan (MLG) is an important complex dietary polysaccharide (dietary fiber), the degradation of which in the human gut depends on the resident microbiota. Tamura et al. outline the molecular mechanism of MLG utilization by Bacteroides ovatus and reveal that the majority of surveyed humans possess MLG-utilizing Bacteroidetes.

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© 2017 The Authors.

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