Effects of Gut Microbiota on Gene Expression

To date, there are only a few molecular descriptions of how bacteria in the normal microbiota regulate gene products with presumed positive functions in the intestine or systemically. Dramatic changes in gene expression were noted when germ-free mice were mono-colonized with Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron, a component of the normal microbiota of adult mice and humans (64). A number of genes involved in general mechanisms like nutrient uptake, fortification of the intestinal epithelial barrier, postnatal development, and angiogenesis are regulated in response to this commensal microbe. In addition, it is becoming clear that metabolic products, produced by the gut microbiota, can alter gene expression in the colonocyte [e.g., butyrate, produced by bacterial fermentation of dietary fiber, induces p21/Cip1/WAF1 mRNA (important in cell cycle control)] and secondary bile acids, produced from primary bile acids by the gut microbiota, alter AP-1-dependent and COX-2 gene transcription) (65,66).

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