ENP Newswire -
Release date- 13022014 - Communication is vital to any successful relationship.
Researchers from the
This is a key step in understanding how our bodies maintain a close relationship with the population of gut bacteria that plays crucial roles in maintaining our health, fighting infection and digesting our food.
A study, published today in the journal Cell Reports, shows that the gut bacteria produce an enzyme that modifies signalling in cells lining the gut. The enzyme also has another role in breaking down food components.
'Our study provides a breakthrough in understanding how bacteria communicate across different kingdoms to influence our own cells' behaviour, as well as how we digest our food,' said Dr
We all rely on trillions of bacteria in our gut to break down certain components of our diet. One example is phytate, the form phosphorus takes in cereals and vegetables. Broken down phytate is a source of vital nutrients, but in its undigested form it has detrimental properties. It binds to important minerals preventing them being taken up by the body, causing conditions like anaemia, especially in developing countries. Phytate also leads to excess phosphorus leaching into the soil from farm animal waste, and feed supplements are used to minimise this.
But despite the importance of phytate, we know very little about how it is broken down in our gut.
To address this Dr Stentz and colleagues screened the genomes of hundreds of different species of gut bacteria. They found, in one of the most prominent gut bacteria species, an enzyme able to break down phytate. In collaboration with
The bacteria package the enzyme in small 'cages', called outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) which allow phytate in for nutrient processing but prevent it being destroyed by our own protein-degrading enzymes. This releases nutrients, specifically phosphates and inositol, which can be absorbed by our own bodies, as well as the bacteria.
Working with Prof
Uncovering how we breakdown phytate will improve our understanding of how we maintain health, and possibly provide new avenues to reducing its effects in exacerbating malnutrition.
The researchers are interested in seeing how well this new enzyme compares with current fungus-derived feed supplements in preventing the problem of excess phosphorus from farm animal waste.
'Our ongoing research here at UEA looks at the 3D structure of this novel phytase and the detailed analysis of phytate degradation. We believe this will be of great value in helping develop tomorrow's high value animal feed enzymes.'
The team also wants to investigate the role these bacterial enzymes play in cross-kingdom communication, to find out the consequences of the calcium signalling changes. The gut lining is highly dynamic, containing stem cells that give rise to a number of different cell types that help to maintain the gut in a healthy state. Gut bacteria play a role in maintaining this healthy state, with diversions from this implicated in a number of diseases. Knowing how bacteria communicate with us opens up new possibilities to investigate this further.
Prof Carding added: 'This has been a great example of how the
'A Bacterial Homolog of a Eukaryotic Inositol Phosphate-Signaling Enzyme Mediates Cross-kingdom Dialog in the Mammalian Gut' is published in the journal Cell Reports.
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