Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001 is a probiotic strain reported to increase resistance to epithelium-adherent and -invasive intestinal pathogens in experimental animals. To increase understanding of the relationship between strain HN001 and the bowel, transcription of selected genes in the mucosa of the murine small bowel was measured. Mice previously naive to lactobacilli (Lactobacillus-free mice) were examined after daily exposure to HN001 in drinking water. Comparisons were made to results from matched Lactobacillus-free mice. Infant and adult mice were investigated to provide a temporal view of gene expression in response to exposure to HN001. Genes sgk1, angptl4, and hspa1b, associated with the apoptosis pathway, were selected for investigation by reverse transcription-quantitative PCR on the basis of a preliminary duodenal DNA microarray screen. Normalized to gapdh gene transcription, these three genes were upregulated after 6 to 10 days exposure of adult mice to HN001. Angptl4 was shown by immunofluorescence to be upregulated in duodenal epithelial cells of mucosal samples. Epithelial cell migration was faster in HN001-exposed mice than in the Lactobacillus-free controls. Transcriptional responses in infant mice differed according to bowel region and age. For example, sgk1 was upregulated in duodenal, jejunal, and ileal mucosa of mice less than 25 days old, whereas angptl4 and hspa1b were upregulated at 10 days in the duodenum but downregulated in the jejunal mucosa until mice were 25 days old. Overall, the results provide links between a probiotic strain, mucosal gene expression, and host phenotype, which may be useful in delineating mechanisms of probiotic action.
Knowledge of the trophisms that underpin bowel microbiota composition is required in order to understand its complex phylogeny and function. Stable-isotope (13C)-labeled inulin was added to the diet of rats on a single occasion in order to detect utilization of inulin-derived substrates by particular members of the cecal microbiota. Cecal digesta from Fibruline-inulin-fed rats was collected prior to (0 h) and at 6, 12, 18 and 24 h following provision of the [13C]inulin diet. RNA was extracted from these cecal specimens and fractionated in isopycnic buoyant density gradients in order to detect 13C-labeled nucleic acid originating in bacterial cells that had metabolized the labeled dietary constituent. RNA extracted from specimens collected after provision of the labeled diet was more dense than 0-h RNA. Sequencing of 16S rRNA genes amplified from cDNA obtained from these fractions showed that Bacteroides uniformis, Blautia glucerasea, Clostridium indolis, and Bifidobacterium animalis were the main users of the 13C-labeled substrate. Culture-based studies of strains of these bacterial species enabled trophisms associated with inulin and its hydrolysis products to be identified.
B. uniformis utilized Fibruline-inulin for growth, whereas the other species used fructo-oligosaccharide and monosaccharides. Thus, RNA–stable-isotope probing (RNA-SIP) provided new information about the use of carbon from inulin in microbiota metabolism.
The human bowel contains a large and biodiverse bacterial community known as the microbiota or microbiome. It seems likely that the microbiota, fractions of the microbiota, or specific species comprising the microbiota provide the antigenic fuel that drives the chronic immune inflammation of the bowel mucosa that is characteristic of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. At least twenty years of microbiological research have been expended on analysis of the composition of the bowel microbiota of inflammatory bowel disease patients in comparison to that of control subjects. Despite extensive speculations about the aetiological role of dysbiosis in inflammatory bowel diseases, knowledge that can be easily translated into effective remedies for patients has not eventuated. The causes of this failure may be due to poorly defined and executed bacteriological studies, as well as the overwhelming complexity of a biome that contains hundreds of bacterial species and trillions of bacterial cells.
Lactobacillus ruminis is an inhabitant of human bowels and bovine rumens. None of 10 isolates (three from bovine rumen, seven from human feces) of L. ruminis that were tested could utilize barley β-glucan for growth. Seven of the strains of L. ruminis were, however, able to utilize tetrasaccharides (3-O-β-cellotriosyl-d-glucose [LDP4] or 4-O-β-laminaribiosyl-d-cellobiose [CDP4]) present in β-glucan hydrolysates for growth. The tetrasaccharides were generated by the use of lichenase or cellulase, respectively. To learn more about the utilization of tetrasaccharides by L. ruminis, whole-transcriptome shotgun sequencing (RNA-seq) was tested as a transcriptional screen to detect altered gene expression when an autochthonous human strain (L5) was grown in medium containing CDP4. RNA-seq results were confirmed and extended by reverse transcription-quantitative PCR assays of selected genes in two upregulated operons when cells were grown as batch cultures in medium containing either CDP4 or LDP4. The cellobiose utilization operon had increased transcription, particularly in early growth phase, whereas the chemotaxis/motility operon was upregulated in late growth phase. Phenotypic changes were seen in relation to upregulation of chemotaxis/flagellar operons: flagella were rarely seen by electron microscopy on glucose-grown cells but cells cultured in tetrasaccharide medium were commonly flagellated. Chemotactic movement toward tetrasaccharides was demonstrated in capillary cultures. L. ruminis utilized 3-O-β-cellotriosyl-d-glucose released by β-glucan hydrolysis due to bowel commensal Coprococcus sp., indicating that cross feeding of tetrasaccharide between bacteria could occur. Therefore, the RNA-seq screen and subsequent experiments had utility in revealing foraging attributes of gut commensal Lactobacillus ruminis.
The aim of the study was to compare the compositions of the fecal microbiotas of infants fed goat milk formula to those of infants fed cow milk formula or breast milk as the gold standard. Pyrosequencing of 16S rRNA gene sequences was used in the analysis of the microbiotas in stool samples collected from 90 Australian babies (30 in each group) at 2 months of age. Beta-diversity analysis of total microbiota sequences and Lachnospiraceae sequences revealed that they were more similar in breast milk/goat milk comparisons than in breast milk/cow milk comparisons. The Lachnospiraceae were mostly restricted to a single species (Ruminococcus gnavus) in breast milk-fed and goat milk-fed babies compared to a more diverse collection in cow milk-fed babies. Bifidobacteriaceae were abundant in the microbiotas of infants in all three groups. Bifidobacterium longum, Bifidobacterium breve, and Bifidobacterium bifidum were the most commonly detected bifidobacterial species. A semiquantitative PCR method was devised to differentiate between B. longum subsp. longum and B. longum subsp. infantis and was used to test stool samples. B. longum subsp. infantis was seldom present in stools, even of breast milk-fed babies. The presence of B. bifidum in the stools of breast milk-fed infants at abundances greater than 10% of the total microbiota was associated with the highest total abundances of Bifidobacteriaceae. When Bifidobacteriaceae abundance was low, Lachnospiraceae abundances were greater. New information about the composition of the fecal microbiota when goat milk formula is used in infant nutrition was thus obtained.
The ability to predictably engineer the composition of bowel microbial communities (microbiota) using dietary components is important because of the reported associations of altered microbiota composition with medical conditions. In a synecological study, weanling conventional Sprague-Dawley rats (21 days old) were fed a basal diet (BD) or a diet supplemented with resistant starch (RS) at 5%, 2.5%, or 1.25% for 28 days. Pyrosequencing of 16S rRNA genes and temporal temperature gradient electrophoresis (TTGE) profiles in the colonic digesta showed that rats fed RS had altered microbiota compositions due to blooms of Bacteroidetes and Actinobacteria. The altered microbiota was associated with changes in colonic short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) concentrations, colonic-tissue gene expression (Gsta2 and Ela1), and host physiology (serum metabolite profiles and colonic goblet cell numbers). Comparisons between germ-free and conventional rats showed that transcriptional and serum metabolite differences were mediated by the microbiota and were not the direct result of diet composition. Altered transcriptomic and physiological responses may reflect the young host's attempts to maintain homeostasis as a consequence of exposure to a new collection of bacteria and their associated biochemistry.
Evidence suggests that gut microbes colonize the mammalian intestine through propagation as an adhesive microbial community. A bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) library of murine bowel microbiota DNA in the surrogate host Escherichia coli DH10B was screened for enhanced adherence capability. Two out of 5,472 DH10B clones, 10G6 and 25G1, exhibited enhanced capabilities to adhere to inanimate surfaces in functional screens. DNA segments inserted into the 10G6 and 25G1 clones were 52 and 41 kb and included 47 and 41 protein-coding open reading frames (ORFs), respectively. DNA sequence alignments, tetranucleotide frequency, and codon usage analysis strongly suggest that these two DNA fragments are derived from species belonging to the genus Bacteroides. Consistent with this finding, a large portion of the predicted gene products were highly homologous to those of Bacteroides spp. Transposon mutagenesis and subsequent experiments that involved heterologous expression identified two operons associated with enhanced adherence. E. coli strains transformed with the 10a or 25b operon adhered to the surface of intestinal epithelium and colonized the mouse intestine more vigorously than did the control strain. This study has revealed the genetic determinants of unknown commensals (probably resembling Bacteroides species) that enhance the ability of the bacteria to colonize the murine bowel.
Phylogenetic analysis of gut communities of vertebrates is advanced, but the relationships, especially at the trophic level, between commensals that share gut habitats of monogastric animals have not been investigated to any extent. Lactobacillus reuteri strain 100–23 and Lactobacillus johnsonii strain 100–33 cohabit in the forestomach of mice. According to the niche exclusion principle, this should not be possible because both strains can utilise the two main fermentable carbohydrates present in the stomach digesta: glucose and maltose. We show, based on gene transcription analysis, in vitro physiological assays, and in vivo experiments that the two strains can co-exist in the forestomach habitat because 100–23 grows more rapidly using maltose, whereas 100–33 preferentially utilises glucose. Mutation of the maltose phosphorylase gene (malA) of strain 100–23 prevented its growth on maltose-containing culture medium, and resulted in the numerical dominance of 100–33 in the forestomach. The fundamental niche of L. reuteri 100–23 in the mouse forestomach can be defined in terms of ‘glucose and maltose trophism'. However, its realised niche when L. johnsonii 100–33 is present is ‘maltose trophism'. Hence, nutritional adaptations provide niche differentiation that assists cohabitation by the two strains through resource partitioning in the mouse forestomach. This real life, trophic phenomenon conforms to a mathematical model based on in vitro bacterial doubling times, in vitro transport rates, and concentrations of maltose and glucose in mouse stomach digesta.
gut; niche; adaptation; lactobacilli; resource partitioning; mathematical model
Parasitic nematode worms (Aspicularis tetraptera) were observed microscopically in histological sections of the colons of C57BL/6StCrl female mice. These nematodes have gram-positive bacteria intimately associated with the mucosal epithelium in their alimentary tract.
Probiotic administration has been proposed for the prevention and treatment of specific allergic manifestations such as eczema, rhinitis, gastrointestinal allergy, food allergy, and asthma. However, published statements and scientific opinions disagree about the clinical usefulness.
A World Allergy Organization Special Committee on Food Allergy and Nutrition review of the evidence regarding the use of probiotics for the prevention and treatment of allergy.
A qualitative and narrative review of the literature on probiotic treatment of allergic disease was carried out to address the diversity and variable quality of relevant studies. This variability precluded systematization, and an expert panel group discussion method was used to evaluate the literature. In the absence of systematic reviews of treatment, meta-analyses of prevention studies were used to provide data in support of probiotic applications.
Despite the plethora of literature, probiotic research is still in its infancy. There is a need for basic microbiology research on the resident human microbiota. Mechanistic studies from biology, immunology, and genetics are needed before we can claim to harness the potential of immune modulatory effects of microbiota. Meanwhile, clinicians must take a step back and try to link disease state with alterations of the microbiota through well-controlled long-term studies to identify clinical indications.
Probiotics do not have an established role in the prevention or treatment of allergy. No single probiotic supplement or class of supplements has been demonstrated to efficiently influence the course of any allergic manifestation or long-term disease or to be sufficient to do so. Further epidemiologic, immunologic, microbiologic, genetic, and clinical studies are necessary to determine whether probiotic supplements will be useful in preventing allergy. Until then, supplementation with probiotics remains empirical in allergy medicine. In the future, basic research should focus on homoeostatic studies, and clinical research should focus on preventive medicine applications, not only in allergy. Collaborations between allergo-immunologists and microbiologists in basic research and a multidisciplinary approach in clinical research are likely to be the most fruitful.
probiotics; prevention of allergy; pediatric allergy
Autoinducer-2 (AI-2)-mediated quorum sensing has been extensively studied in relation to the regulation of microbial behavior. There are, however, two potential roles for the AI-2 synthase (LuxS). The first is in the production of AI-2 and the second is as an enzyme in the activated methyl cycle, where it catalyzes the conversion of S-ribosylhomocysteine to homocysteine. The by-product of the reaction catalyzed by LuxS is (S)-4,5-dihydroxy-2,3-pentanedione, which spontaneously forms the furanones known collectively as AI-2. The mammalian gut contains a complex collection of bacterial species so a method of interspecies communication might influence community structure and function. Lactobacillus reuteri 100-23 is an autochthonous inhabitant of the rodent forestomach, where it adheres to the nonsecretory epithelium, forming a biofilm. Microarray comparisons of gene expression profiles of the L. reuteri 100-23 wild type and a luxS mutant under different culture conditions revealed altered transcription of genes encoding proteins associated with cysteine biosynthesis/oxidative stress response, urease activity, and sortase-dependent proteins. Metabolomic analysis showed that the luxS mutation affected cellular levels of fermentation products, fatty acids and amino acids. Cell density-dependent changes (log phase versus stationary phase growth) in gene transcription were not detected, indicating that AI-2 was unlikely to be involved in gene regulation mediated by quorum sensing in L. reuteri 100-23.
Lactobacillus reuteri strain 100-23 together with a Lactobacillus-free mouse model, provides a system with which the molecular traits underpinning bacterial commensalism in vertebrates can be studied. A polysaccharide was extracted from sucrose-containing liquid cultures of strain 100-23. Chemical analysis showed that this exopolysaccharide was a levan (β-2, 6-linked fructan). Mutation of the fructosyl transferase (ftf) gene resulted in loss of exopolysaccharide production. The ftf mutant was able to colonise the murine gastrointestinal tract in the absence of competition, but colonisation was impaired in competition with the wild type. Biofilm formation by the mutant on the forestomach epithelial surface was not impaired and the matrix between cells was indistinguishable from that of the wild type in electron micrographs. Colonisation of the mouse gut by the wild-type strain led to increased proportions of regulatory T cells (Foxp3+) in the spleen, whereas colonisation by the ftf mutant did not. Survival of the mutant in sucrose-containing medium was markedly reduced relative to the wild type. Comparison of the genomic ftf loci of strain 100-23 with other L. reuteri strains suggested that the ftf gene was acquired by lateral gene transfer early in the evolution of the species and subsequently diversified at accelerated rates. Levan production by L. reuteri 100-23 may represent a function acquired by the bacterial species for life in moderate to high-sucrose extra-gastrointestinal environments that has subsequently been diverted to novel uses, including immunomodulation, that aid in colonisation of the murine gut.
Lactobacillus reuteri; exopolysaccharide; survival; regulatory T cells; evolution
Recent research has provided mechanistic insight into the important contributions of the gut microbiota to vertebrate biology, but questions remain about the evolutionary processes that have shaped this symbiosis. In the present study, we showed in experiments with gnotobiotic mice that the evolution of Lactobacillus reuteri with rodents resulted in the emergence of host specialization. To identify genomic events marking adaptations to the murine host, we compared the genome of the rodent isolate L. reuteri 100-23 with that of the human isolate L. reuteri F275, and we identified hundreds of genes that were specific to each strain. In order to differentiate true host-specific genome content from strain-level differences, comparative genome hybridizations were performed to query 57 L. reuteri strains originating from six different vertebrate hosts in combination with genome sequence comparisons of nine strains encompassing five phylogenetic lineages of the species. This approach revealed that rodent strains, although showing a high degree of genomic plasticity, possessed a specific genome inventory that was rare or absent in strains from other vertebrate hosts. The distinct genome content of L. reuteri lineages reflected the niche characteristics in the gastrointestinal tracts of their respective hosts, and inactivation of seven out of eight representative rodent-specific genes in L. reuteri 100-23 resulted in impaired ecological performance in the gut of mice. The comparative genomic analyses suggested fundamentally different trends of genome evolution in rodent and human L. reuteri populations, with the former possessing a large and adaptable pan-genome while the latter being subjected to a process of reductive evolution. In conclusion, this study provided experimental evidence and a molecular basis for the evolution of host specificity in a vertebrate gut symbiont, and it identified genomic events that have shaped this process.
The gastrointestinal microbiota of vertebrates is important for nutrient utilization, resistance against pathogens, and immune maturation of its host, but little is known about the evolutionary relationships between vertebrates and individual bacterial members of these communities. Here we provide robust evidence that the evolution of the gut symbiont Lactobacillus reuteri with vertebrates resulted in the emergence of host specialization. Genomic approaches using a combination of genome sequence comparisons and microarray analysis were used to identify the host-specific genome content in rodent and human strains and the evolutionary events that resulted in host adaptation. The study revealed divergent patterns of genome evolution in rodent and human lineages and a distinct genome inventory in host-restricted sub-populations of L. reuteri that reflected the niche characteristics in the gut of their particular vertebrate hosts. The ecological significance of representative rodent-specific genes was demonstrated in gnotobiotic mice. In conclusion, this work provided evidence that the vertebrate gut symbiont Lactobacillus reuteri, despite the likelihood of horizontal transmission, has remained stably associated with related groups of vertebrate hosts over evolutionary time and has evolved a lifestyle specialized to these host animals.
We recently showed that Bifidobacterium animalis is more prevalent within the colons of IL-10 deficient (−/−) mice than in wild type (WT) animals colonized with the same specific pathogen free (SPF) fecal contents. Here we tested the ability of this organism to cause T cell-mediated intestinal inflammation by introducing it into germ-free (GF) IL-10−/− mice.
GF IL-10−/− or WT mice were monoassociated with Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. animalis ATCC 25527T or with Bifidobacterium infantis ATCC 15697T. Inflammation was measured by blinded histologic scores of the duodenum, cecum and colon and by spontaneous secretion of IL-12/IL-23 p40 from colonic explants. Bacterial antigen-specific CD4+ mesenteric lymph node (MLN) T cell recall responses were measured in response to antigen presenting cells (APC) pulsed with bacterial lysates.
B. animalis caused marked duodenal inflammation and mild colitis in monoassociated IL-10−/− mice, whereas the intestinal tracts of WT animals remained free of inflammation. B. infantis colonization resulted in mild inflammation in the duodena of IL-10−/− mice. CD4+ MLN T cells from B. animalis monoassociated IL-10−/− mice secreted high levels of IFN-γ and IL-17 in response to B. animalis lysate. B. animalis equally colonized the different intestinal regions of WT and IL-10−/− mice.
B. animalis, a traditional probiotic species that is expanded in experimental colitis in this model, induces marked duodenal and mild colonic inflammation and TH1/TH17 immune responses when introduced alone into GF IL-10−/− mice. This suggests a potential pathogenic role for this commensal bacterial species in a susceptible host.
Intestinal inflammation; animal models; IL-10 deficient mice; Bifidobacterium animalis
One hundred forty-one Campylobacter jejuni isolates from humans with diarrhea and 100 isolates from retailed poultry meat were differentiated by flaA typing. The bacteria were isolated in a specific geographical area (Dunedin) in New Zealand over a common time period. Twenty nine flaA types were detected, one of which (flaA restriction fragment length polymorphism type 15 [flaA-15]) predominated among isolates from humans (∼30% of isolates). This strain was of low prevalence (5% of isolates) among poultry isolates. flaA-15 strains were five to six times more invasive of HEp2 cells in an in vitro assay than a flaA type (flaA-3) that was commonly encountered on poultry meat (23% of isolates) but was seldom associated with human illness (5%). Competitive-exclusion experiments with chickens, utilizing real-time quantitative PCR to measure the population sizes of specific strains representing flaA-15 (T1016) and flaA-3 (Pstau) in digesta, were carried out. These experiments showed that T1016 always outcompeted Pstau in the chicken intestine. Genomic comparisons of T1016 and Pstau were made using DNA microarrays representing the genome of C. jejuni NCTC 11168. These comparisons revealed differences between the strains in the gene content of the Cj1417c-to-Cj1442c region of the genome, which is associated with the formation of capsular polysaccharide. The strains differed in Penner type (T1016, O42; Pstau, O53). It was concluded that poultry meat was at least one source of human infection with C. jejuni, that some Campylobacter strains detected in poultry meat are of higher virulence for humans than others, and that bacterial attributes affecting strain virulence and commensal colonization ability may be linked.
A real-time quantitative PCR assay targeting a 16S-23S intergenic spacer region sequence was devised to measure the sizes of populations of Lactobacillus salivarius present in ileal digesta collected from broiler chickens. This species has been associated with deconjugation of bile salts in the small bowel and reduced broiler productivity. The assay was tested as a means of monitoring the sizes of L. salivarius populations from broilers fed diets with different compositions, maintained at different stocking densities, or given the antimicrobial drugs bacitracin and monensin in the feed. Stocking densities did not influence the numbers of L. salivarius cells in the ileum. A diet containing meat and bone meal reduced the size of the L. salivarius population relative to that of chickens given the control diet, as did administration of bacitracin and monensin in the feed. These changes in the target bacterial population were associated with improved broiler weight gain.
BBn (BioBreeding) rats were fed casein-based diets supplemented with barley flour, oatmeal flour, cellulose, or barley β-glucans of high [HV] or low viscosity [LV] in order to measure the prebiotic effects of these different sources of dietary fiber. The dietary impact on the composition of the cecal microbiota was determined by the generation of denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) profiles of PCR-amplified 16S rRNA gene sequences. The DGGE profiles produced from the cecal microbiota of rats within each dietary group were similar, but consensus profiles generated from pooled bacterial DNAs showed differences between rat groups. Animals fed HV glucans (HV-fed rats) had DGGE consensus profiles that were 30% dissimilar from those of the other rat groups. A 16S rRNA gene fragment that was more conspicuous in the profiles of HV-fed animals than in those of cellulose-fed rats had sequence identity with Lactobacillus acidophilus. Measurements of L. acidophilus rRNA abundance (DNA-RNA hybridization), the preparation of cloned 16S rRNA gene libraries, and the enumeration of Lactobacillus cells (fluorescent in situ hybridization) showed that lactobacilli formed a greater proportion of the cecal microbiota in HV-fed rats. In vitro experiments confirmed that some lactobacilli utilize oligosaccharides (degree of polymerization, 3 or 4) present in β-glucan hydrolysates. The results of this study have relevance to the use of purified β-glucan products as dietary supplements for human consumption.
The luxS gene of Lactobacillus reuteri 100-23C was amplified by PCR, cloned, and then sequenced. To define a physiological and ecological role for the luxS gene in L. reuteri 100-23C, a luxS mutant was constructed by insertional mutagenesis. The luxS mutant did not produce autoinducers AI-2 or AI-3. Complementation of the luxS mutation by a plasmid construct containing luxS restored AI-2 and AI-3 synthesis. In vitro experiments revealed that neither the growth rate, nor the cell yield, nor cell survival in the stationary phase were compromised in the luxS mutant relative to the wild type and complemented mutant. The ATP content of exponentially growing cells of the luxS mutant was, however, 65% of that of wild-type cells. Biofilms formed by the luxS mutant on plastic surfaces in a bioreactor were thicker than those formed by the wild type. Biofilm thickness was not restored to wild-type values by the addition of purified AI-2 to the culture medium. In vivo experiments, conducted with ex-Lactobacillus-free mice, showed that biofilms formed by the mutant strain on the epithelial surface of the forestomach were approximately twice as thick as those formed by the wild type. The ecological performance of the luxS mutant, when in competition with L. reuteri strain 100-93 in the mouse cecum, was reduced compared to that of a xylA mutant of 100-23C. These results demonstrate that LuxS influences important ecological attributes of L. reuteri 100-23C, the consequences of which are niche specific.
Thirty-eight isolates of Lactobacillus gallinarum cultured from the crops of broiler chickens were screened for the presence of genes encoding S-layer proteins. All of the isolates had two S-protein genes, which were designated Lactobacillus gallinarum S-protein (lgs) genes. One gene in each isolate was either lgsA or lgsB. The Lactobacillus isolates were further characterized by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis of DNA digests, which grouped the isolates into 17 genotypes (strains). The second gene in each of eight representative strains was sequenced and shown to differ among strains (lgsC, lgsD, lgsE, lgsF, lgsG, lgsH, and lgsI). The genome of each strain thus encoded a common S-protein (encoded by either lgsA or lgsB) and a strain-specific S-protein. The extraction of cell surface proteins from cultures of the eight strains showed that each strain produced a single S-protein that was always encoded by the strain-specific lgs gene. Two of the strains were used to inoculate chickens maintained in a protected environment which were Lactobacillus-free prior to inoculation. DNAs and RNAs extracted from the digesta of the chickens were used for PCR and reverse transcription-PCR, respectively, to demonstrate the presence and transcription of lgs genes in vivo. In both cases, only the strain-specific gene was transcribed. Both of the strains adhered to the crop epithelium, consistent with published data predicting that S-proteins of lactobacilli are adhesins. The results of this study provide a basis for the investigation of gene duplication and sequence variation as mechanisms by which bacterial strains of the same species can share the same habitat.
A metagenomic (community genomic) library consisting of 5,760 bacterial artificial chromosome clones was prepared in Escherichia coli DH10B from DNA extracted from the large-bowel microbiota of BALB/c mice. DNA inserts detected in 61 randomly chosen clones averaged 55 kbp (range, 8 to 150 kbp) in size. A functional screen of the library for β-glucanase activity was conducted using lichenin agar plates and Congo red solution. Three clones with β-glucanase activity were detected. The inserts of these three clones were sequenced and annotated. Open reading frames (ORF) that encoded putative proteins with identity to glucanolytic enzymes (lichenases and laminarinases) were detected by reference to databases. Other putative genes were detected, some of which might have a role in environmental sensing, nutrient acquisition, or coaggregation. The insert DNA from two clones probably originated from uncultivated bacteria because the ORF had low sequence identity with database entries, but the genes associated with the remaining clone resembled sequences reported in Bacteroides species.
Members of the genus Lactobacillus are common inhabitants of the gut, yet little is known about the traits that contribute to their ecological performance in gastrointestinal ecosystems. Lactobacillus reuteri 100-23 persists in the gut of the reconstituted Lactobacillus-free mouse after a single oral inoculation. Recently, three genes of this strain that were specifically induced (in vivo induced) in the murine gut were identified (38). We report here the detection of a gene of L. reuteri 100-23 that encodes a high-molecular-mass surface protein (Lsp) that shows homology to proteins involved in the adherence of other bacteria to epithelial cells and in biofilm formation. The three in vivo-induced genes and lsp of L. reuteri 100-23 were inactivated by insertional mutagenesis in order to study their biological importance in the murine gastrointestinal tract. Competition experiments showed that mutation of lsp and a gene encoding methionine sulfoxide reductase (MsrB) reduced ecological performance. Mutation of lsp impaired the adherence of the bacteria to the epithelium of the mouse forestomach and altered colonization dynamics. Homologues of lsp and msrB are present in the genomes of several strains of Lactobacillus and may play an important role in the maintenance of these bacteria in gut ecosystems.
The gut microbiota may be important in the postnatal development of the immune system and hence may influence the prevalence of atopic diseases. Bifidobacteria are the most numerous bacteria in the guts of infants, and the presence or absence of certain species could be important in determining the geographic incidence of atopic diseases. We compared the fecal populations of bifidobacteria from children aged 25 to 35 days in Ghana (which has a low prevalence of atopy), New Zealand, and the United Kingdom (high-prevalence countries). Natal origin influenced the detection of bifidobacterial species in that fecal samples from Ghana almost all contained Bifidobacterium infantis whereas those of the other children did not. Choosing species on the basis of our bacteriological results, we tested bifidobacterial preparations for their effects on cell surface markers and cytokine production by dendritic cells harvested from cord blood. Species-specific effects on the expression of the dendritic-cell activation marker CD83 and the production of interleukin-10 (IL-10) were observed. Whereas CD83 expression was increased and IL-10 production was induced by Bifidobacterium bifidum, Bifidobacterium longum, and Bifidobacterium pseudocatenulatum, B. infantis failed to produce these effects. We concluded that B. infantis does not trigger the activation of dendritic cells to the degree necessary to initiate an immune response but that B. bifidum, B. longum, and B. pseudocatenulatum induce a Th2-driven immune response. A hypothesis is presented to link our observations to the prevalence of atopic diseases in different countries.