Metabolism of dietary glycans is pivotal in shaping the human gut microbiota. However, the mechanisms that promote competition for glycans among gut commensals remain unclear. Roseburia intestinalis, an abundant butyrate-producing Firmicute, is a key degrader of the major dietary fibre xylan. Despite the association of this taxon to a healthy microbiota, insight is lacking into its glycan utilization machinery. Here, we investigate the apparatus that confers R. intestinalis growth on different xylans. R. intestinalis displays a large cell-attached modular xylanase that promotes multivalent and dynamic association to xylan via four xylan-binding modules. This xylanase operates in concert with an ATP-binding cassette transporter to mediate breakdown and selective internalization of xylan fragments. The transport protein of R. intestinalis prefers oligomers of 4-5 xylosyl units, whereas the counterpart from a model xylan-degrading Bacteroides commensal targets larger ligands. Although R. intestinalis and the Bacteroides competitor co-grew in a mixed culture on xylan, R. intestinalis dominated on the preferred transport substrate xylotetraose. These findings highlight the differentiation of capture and transport preferences as a possible strategy to facilitate co-growth on abundant dietary fibres and may offer a unique route to manipulate the microbiota based on glycan transport preferences in therapeutic interventions to boost distinct taxa.
Leth, M. L.
, Ejby, M., Workman, C.
, Ewald, D. A., Pedersen, S. S., Sternberg, C., Bahl, M. I., Licht, T. R.
, Aachmann, F. L., Westereng, B., & Abou Hachem, M.
(2018). Differential bacterial capture and transport preferences facilitate co-growth on dietary xylan in the human gut
. Nature Microbiology