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Eur J Biochem. 2004 Jan;271(1):87-95.

Expression of mitochondrial HMGCoA synthase and glutaminase in the colonic mucosa is modulated by bacterial species.

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Laboratoire de Nutrition et Sécurité Alimentaire, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, Jouy-en-Josas, France.


The expression of the colonic mitochondrial 3-hydroxy 3-methyl glutaryl CoA (mHMGCoA) synthase, a key control site of ketogenesis from butyrate, is lower in germ-free (GF) than in conventional (CV) rats. In contrast, the activity of glutaminase is higher. The objective of this study was to investigate whether the intestinal flora can affect gene expression through short chain fatty acid (SCFA) and butyrate production. GF rats were inoculated with a conventional flora (Ino-CV) or with a bacterial strain producing butyrate (Clostridium paraputrificum, Ino-Cp) or not (Bifidobacterium breve, Ino-Bb). In the Ino-CV rats, mHMGCoA synthase expression was restored to the CV values 2 days after the inoculation, i.e. concomitantly with SCFA production. In the Ino-Cp group, but not in the Ino-Bb group, mHMGCoA synthase and glutaminase were expressed at the level observed in the CV rats. These data suggest that the intestinal flora, through butyrate production, could control the expression of colonic mHMGCoA synthase and glutaminase. These modifications in gene expression by butyrate in vivo seem unrelated to a modification of histone acetylation.

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