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Depletion of microbiome-derived molecules in the host using Clostridium genetics

By Chun-Jun Guo, Breanna M. Allen, Kamir J. Hiam, Dylan Dodd, Will van Treuren, Steven Higginbottom, Curt R. Fischer, Justin L Sonnenburg, Matthew H. Spitzer, Michael A Fischbach

Posted 27 Aug 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/401489 (published DOI: 10.1126/science.aav1282)

The gut microbiota produce hundreds of molecules that are present at high concentrations in circulation and whose levels vary widely among humans. In most cases, molecule production has not been linked to specific bacterial strains or metabolic pathways, and unraveling the contribution of each molecule to host biology remains difficult. A general system to toggle molecules in this pool on/off in the host would enable interrogation of the mechanisms by which they modulate host biology and disease processes. Such a system has been elusive due to limitations in the genetic manipulability of Clostridium and its relatives, the source of many molecules in this pool. Here, we describe a method for reliably constructing clean deletions in a model commensal Clostridium, C. sporogenes (Cs), including multiply mutated strains. We demonstrate the utility of this method by using it to toggle off the production of ten Cs-derived molecules that accumulate in host tissues. By comparing mice colonized by wild-type Cs versus a mutant deficient in the production of branched short-chain fatty acids, we discover a previously unknown IgA-modulatory activity of these abundant microbiome-derived molecules. Our method opens the door to interrogating and sculpting a highly concentrated pool of chemicals from the microbiome.

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