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J Clin Invest. Jan 1976; 57(1): 63–73.
PMCID: PMC436626

Degradation of blood group antigens in human colon ecosystems. I. In vitro production of ABH blood group-degrading enzymes by enteric bacteria.

Abstract

Human feces contain enzymes produced by enteric bacteria that degrade the A, B, and H blood group antigens of gut mucin glycoproteins. We have studied their production in fecal cultures to determine if such cultures can be a source for enzyme purification and to explore how blood group antigen-degrading enzymes are adapted in individual human colon ecosystems. They were present in fecal cultures from each of 27 healthy subjects, including ABH nonsecretors. Heat-sensitive obligate anaerobes are their major source. From 39 to 85% of the total enzyme activity produced by growing cultures was extracellular. Commercial hog gastric mucin and salivary glycoproteins, including Lea saliva which lacks A, B, and H antigens, enhance production of A-, B-, and H-degrading activity in anaerobic fecal cultures irrespective of the glycoprotein's blood group specificity. There is evidence that the host's ABO blood type and secretor status affects the specificity of blood group-degrading enzymes produced by his fecal bacteria in vitro. Thus, fecal inocula from B secretors incubated with hog gastric mucin (A and H specificity) or with Lea saliva produced greater levels of B-degrading than A- or H-degrading activity, and inocula from A secretors in similar media produced greater levels of A-degrading than B- or H-degrading activity. Blood group-degrading enzymes produced in fecal cultures are glycosidases and not proteases. The B-degrading enzyme cleaves the B antigenic determinant alpha-D-galactose from the oligosaccharide side chains of mucin glycoproteins with B specificity. Anaerobic fecal cultures containing blood group substances are a feasible source for purifying blood group antigen-degrading enzymes. Prior adaptation to blood group antigens in the gut mucins of type A and type B secretors affects the specificity of the enzymes produced in vitro.

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Selected References

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