Enzymatic Adaptation of Bifidobacterium bifidum to Host Glycans, Viewed from Glycoside Hydrolyases and Carbohydrate-Binding Modules

Toshihiko Katoh, Miriam N Ojima, Mikiyasu Sakanaka, Hisashi Ashida, Aina Gotoh, Takane Katayama*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReviewResearchpeer-review

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Certain species of the genus Bifidobacterium represent human symbionts. Many studies have shown that the establishment of symbiosis with such bifidobacterial species confers various beneficial effects on human health. Among the more than ten (sub)species of human gut-associated Bifidobacterium that have significantly varied genetic characteristics at the species level, Bifidobacterium bifidum is unique in that it is found in the intestines of a wide age group, ranging from infants to adults. This species is likely to have adapted to efficiently degrade host-derived carbohydrate chains, such as human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) and mucin O-glycans, which enabled the longitudinal colonization of intestines. The ability of this species to assimilate various host glycans can be attributed to the possession of an adequate set of extracellular glycoside hydrolases (GHs). Importantly, the polypeptides of those glycosidases frequently contain carbohydrate-binding modules (CBMs) with deduced affinities to the target glycans, which is also a distinct characteristic of this species among members of human gut-associated bifidobacteria. This review firstly describes the prevalence and distribution of B. bifidum in the human gut and then explains the enzymatic machinery that B. bifidum has developed for host glycan degradation by referring to the functions of GHs and CBMs. Finally, we show the data of co-culture experiments using host-derived glycans as carbon sources, which underpin the interesting altruistic behavior of this species as a cross-feeder.
Original languageEnglish
Article number481
Issue number4
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Bifidobacterium bifidum
  • human milk oligosaccharide
  • mucin O-glycan
  • glycoside hydrolase
  • carbohydrate-binding module
  • cross-feeding


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