Nav: Home

Newly discovered bacteria-binding protein in the intestine

December 08, 2016

Deficiency in a certain protein in the gastrointestinal tract has been shown to lead to both inflammation and abdominal fat accumulation in mice. The discovery provides yet another piece of the puzzle of how humans are affected -- or not -- by the large quantities of intestinal bacteria we carry with us.

In the study from Sahlgrenska Academy, researchers have addressed the key role of the bacteria-binding protein ZG16 in protecting the body from intestinal bacteria.

"The hope is that eventually, we'll be able to administer this protein to improve protection against bacteria in patients with a defective barrier," says Joakim Bergström, postdoctoral researcher at Sahlgrenska Academy.

Joakim Bergström is in Professor Gunnar C. Hansson's research group, which, eight years ago, was first to discover that there is a protective mucus layer in the intestine that separates intestinal bacteria from the intestinal surface.

Clumping bacteria together

The thick mucus layer prevents the large quantities of bacteria people typically have in the gastrointestinal tract, one to two kilos, from reaching the body's tissues and causing inflammation or other harm.

Structurally, this protective barrier is made of proteins (mucins) that are formed and secreted by the goblet cells of the gastrointestinal tract.

The discovery has led to a brand new area of research and has been followed by numerous findings about how the mucus layer is created, is maintained, moves, and is damaged.

The new research shows that the protein ZG16 binds and clumps bacteria together and thus works with the protective mucus layer in the intestine to keep bacteria at a safe distance from the intestinal mucosa.

Mice that lack the protein develop a mucus layer that is more permeable to bacteria, allowing more bacteria to cross the intestinal mucosa into the body. The increased quantity of bacteria that reach the body's various tissues cause low-grade inflammation.

Improved understanding

The bacteria that slip through from the intestine also led to increased abdominal fat accumulation in the mice that had a defective mucus barrier due to the lack of the protein.

The research group has previously shown that the mucus layer is permeable to bacteria in patients with the gastrointestinal disorder ulcerative colitis and in mouse models of inflammatory bowel disease. The finding of a specific protein that helps prevent bacteria from entering the body is important for the understanding of inflammatory bowel diseases and of the origins of more general diseases such as obesity and inflammation.

"It's becoming very clear now that a significant amount of bacteria leaks through the intestine into the body, which plays a role in inflammatory diseases, and even obesity, at least in mice. This indicates a principle that is probably quite universally applicable," says Gunnar C. Hansson.
-end-
Link to the study: http://www.pnas.org/content/113/48/13833.full

Responsible researchers: Joakim Bergström and Gunnar C. Hansson, both at the Institute of Biomedicine, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg.

University of Gothenburg

Related Bacteria Articles:

Bacteria might help other bacteria to tolerate antibiotics better
A new paper by the Dynamical Systems Biology lab at UPF shows that the response by bacteria to antibiotics may depend on other species of bacteria they live with, in such a way that some bacteria may make others more tolerant to antibiotics.
Two-faced bacteria
The gut microbiome, which is a collection of numerous beneficial bacteria species, is key to our overall well-being and good health.
Microcensus in bacteria
Bacillus subtilis can determine proportions of different groups within a mixed population.
Right beneath the skin we all have the same bacteria
In the dermis skin layer, the same bacteria are found across age and gender.
Bacteria must be 'stressed out' to divide
Bacterial cell division is controlled by both enzymatic activity and mechanical forces, which work together to control its timing and location, a new study from EPFL finds.
How bees live with bacteria
More than 90 percent of all bee species are not organized in colonies, but fight their way through life alone.
The bacteria building your baby
Australian researchers have laid to rest a longstanding controversy: is the womb sterile?
Hopping bacteria
Scientists have long known that key models of bacterial movement in real-world conditions are flawed.
Bacteria uses viral weapon against other bacteria
Bacterial cells use both a virus -- traditionally thought to be an enemy -- and a prehistoric viral protein to kill other bacteria that competes with it for food according to an international team of researchers who believe this has potential implications for future infectious disease treatment.
Drug diversity in bacteria
Bacteria produce a cocktail of various bioactive natural products in order to survive in hostile environments with competing (micro)organisms.
More Bacteria News and Bacteria Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Climate Mindset
In the past few months, human beings have come together to fight a global threat. This hour, TED speakers explore how our response can be the catalyst to fight another global crisis: climate change. Guests include political strategist Tom Rivett-Carnac, diplomat Christiana Figueres, climate justice activist Xiye Bastida, and writer, illustrator, and artist Oliver Jeffers.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Speedy Beet
There are few musical moments more well-worn than the first four notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. But in this short, we find out that Beethoven might have made a last-ditch effort to keep his music from ever feeling familiar, to keep pushing his listeners to a kind of psychological limit. Big thanks to our Brooklyn Philharmonic musicians: Deborah Buck and Suzy Perelman on violin, Arash Amini on cello, and Ah Ling Neu on viola. And check out The First Four Notes, Matthew Guerrieri's book on Beethoven's Fifth. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.