Human gut Bacteroidetes can utilize yeast mannan through a selfish mechanism

Fiona Cuskin, Elisabeth C Lowe, Max J Temple, Yanping Zhu, Elizabeth Cameron, Nicholas A Pudlo, Nathan T Porter, Karthik Urs, Andrew J Thompson, Alan Cartmell, Artur Rogowski, Brian S Hamilton, Rui Chen, Thomas J Tolbert, Kathleen Piens, Debby Bracke, Wouter Vervecken, Zalihe Hakki, Gaetano Speciale, Jose L Munōz-MunōzAndrew Day, Maria J Peña, Richard McLean, Michael D Suits, Alisdair B Boraston, Todd Atherly, Cherie J Ziemer, Spencer J Williams, Gideon J Davies, D Wade Abbott, Eric C Martens, Harry J Gilbert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

383 Citations (Scopus)
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Yeasts, which have been a component of the human diet for at least 7,000 years, possess an elaborate cell wall α-mannan. The influence of yeast mannan on the ecology of the human microbiota is unknown. Here we show that yeast α-mannan is a viable food source for the Gram-negative bacterium Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron, a dominant member of the microbiota. Detailed biochemical analysis and targeted gene disruption studies support a model whereby limited cleavage of α-mannan on the surface generates large oligosaccharides that are subsequently depolymerized to mannose by the action of periplasmic enzymes. Co-culturing studies showed that metabolism of yeast mannan by B. thetaiotaomicron presents a 'selfish' model for the catabolism of this difficult to breakdown polysaccharide. Genomic comparison with B. thetaiotaomicron in conjunction with cell culture studies show that a cohort of highly successful members of the microbiota has evolved to consume sterically-restricted yeast glycans, an adaptation that may reflect the incorporation of eukaryotic microorganisms into the human diet.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-169
Number of pages5
Issue number7533
Early online date7 Jan 2015
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jan 2015


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