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J Clin Gastroenterol. 2008 Sep;42 Suppl 3 Pt 2:S160-2. doi: 10.1097/MCG.0b013e31817da140.

Functional genomics of probiotic Lactobacilli.

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Department of Food, Bioprocessing, and Nutrition Sciences, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA.


Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) have been used in fermentation processes for millennia. Recent applications such as the use of living cultures as probiotics have significantly increased industrial interest. Related bacterial strains can differ significantly in their genotype and phenotype, and features from one bacterial strain or species cannot necessarily be applied to a related one. These strain or family-specific differences often represent unique and applicable traits. Since 2002, the complete genomes of 13 probiotic LABs have been published. The presentation will discuss these genomes and highlight probiotic traits that are predicted, or functionally linked to genetic content. We have conducted a comparative genomic analysis of 4 completely sequenced Lactobacillus strains versus 25 lactic acid bacterial genomes present in the public database at the time of analysis. Using Differential Blast Analysis, each genome is compared with 3 other Lactobacillus and 25 other LAB genomes. Differential Blast Analysis highlighted strain-specific genes that were not represented in any other LAB used in this analysis and also identified group-specific genes shared within lactobacilli. Lactobacillus-specific genes include mucus-binding proteins involved in cell-adhesion and several transport systems for carbohydrates and amino acids. Comparative genomic analysis has identified gene targets in Lactobacillus acidophilus for functional analysis, including adhesion to mucin and intestinal epithelial cells, acid tolerance, bile tolerance, and quorum sensing. Whole genome transcriptional profiling of L. acidophilus, and isogenic mutants thereof, has revealed the impact of varying conditions (pH, bile, carbohydrates) and food matrices on the expression of genes important to probiotic-linked mechanisms.

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