Dietary sugars silence the master regulator of carbohydrate utilization in human gut Bacteroides species

Victoria H. Pearce, Eduardo A. Groisman, Guy E. Townsend

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The mammalian gut microbiota is a critical human health determinant with therapeutic potential for remediation of many diseases. The host diet is a key factor governing the gut microbiota composition by altering nutrient availability and supporting the expansion of distinct microbial populations. Diets rich in simple sugars modify the abundance of microbial subsets, enriching for microbiotas that elicit pathogenic outcomes. We previously demonstrated that diets rich in fructose and glucose can reduce the fitness and abundance of a human gut symbiont, Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron, by silencing the production of a critical intestinal colonization protein, called Roc, via its mRNA leader through an unknown mechanism. We have now determined that dietary sugars silence Roc by reducing the activity of BT4338, a master regulator of carbohydrate utilization. Here, we demonstrate that BT4338 is required for Roc synthesis, and that BT4338 activity is silenced by glucose or fructose. We show that the consequences of glucose and fructose on orthologous transcription factors are conserved across human intestinal Bacteroides species. This work identifies a molecular pathway by which a common dietary additive alters microbial gene expression in the gut that could be harnessed to modulate targeted microbial populations for future therapeutic interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2221484
JournalGut microbes
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Gastroenterology
  • Infectious Diseases

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