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Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2017 Mar 26;14(4). pii: E345. doi: 10.3390/ijerph14040345.

Genomic Evidence for Bacterial Determinants Influencing Obesity Development.

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College of Science, Engineering and Mathematics, Bethune-Cookman University, Daytona Beach, FL 32114, USA.
Division of Arts and Sciences, Jarvis Christian College, Hawkins, TX 75765, USA.
Center of Excellence in Minority Health and Health Disparities, Jackson State University, Jackson, MS 39217, USA.
Petrock College of Health Sciences, Bethune-Cookman University, Daytona Beach, FL 32114, USA.
Center of Excellence in Minority Health and Health Disparities, Jackson State University, Jackson, MS 39217, USA.


Obesity is a major global public health problem requiring multifaceted interventional approaches including dietary interventions with probiotic bacteria. High-throughput genome sequencing of microbial communities in the mammalian gastrointestinal system continues to present diverse protein function information to understand the bacterial determinants that influence obesity development. The goal of the research reported in this article was to identify biological processes in probiotic bacteria that could influence the mechanisms for the extraction of energy from diet in the human gastrointestinal system. Our research strategy of combining bioinformatics and visual analytics methods was based on the identification of operon gene arrangements in genomes of Lactobacillus species and Akkermansiamuciniphila that include at least a gene for a universal stress protein. The two major findings from this research study are related to Lactobacillus plantarum and Akkermansia muciniphila bacteria species which are associated with weight-loss. The first finding is that Lactobacillus plantarum strains have a two-gene operon that encodes a universal stress protein for stress response and the membrane translocator protein (TSPO), known to function in mitochondrial fatty acid oxidation in humans. The second finding is the presence of a three-gene operon in Akkermansia muciniphila that includes a gene whose human mitochondrial homolog is associated with waist-hip ratio and fat distribution. From a public health perspective, elucidation of the bacterial determinants influencing obesity will help in educating the public on optimal probiotic use for anti-obesity effects.


Akkermansia; Lactobacillus; bacteria; body weight; microbiome; obesity; overweight; probiotics; public health; universal stress proteins

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