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PLoS Genet. 2019 Aug 29;15(8):e1008073. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1008073. eCollection 2019 Aug.

Genetic determinants of gut microbiota composition and bile acid profiles in mice.

Author information

1
Department of Bacteriology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, United States of America.
2
Department of Chemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, United States of America.
3
Department of Statistics, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, United States of America.
4
Department of Biochemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, United States of America.
5
Jackson Laboratory, Bar Harbor, Maine, United States of America.
6
Department of Biostatistics and Medical Informatics, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, United States of America.
7
Morgridge Institute for Research, Madison, Wisconsin, United States of America.
8
Department of Biomolecular Chemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, United States of America.

Abstract

The microbial communities that inhabit the distal gut of humans and other mammals exhibit large inter-individual variation. While host genetics is a known factor that influences gut microbiota composition, the mechanisms underlying this variation remain largely unknown. Bile acids (BAs) are hormones that are produced by the host and chemically modified by gut bacteria. BAs serve as environmental cues and nutrients to microbes, but they can also have antibacterial effects. We hypothesized that host genetic variation in BA metabolism and homeostasis influence gut microbiota composition. To address this, we used the Diversity Outbred (DO) stock, a population of genetically distinct mice derived from eight founder strains. We characterized the fecal microbiota composition and plasma and cecal BA profiles from 400 DO mice maintained on a high-fat high-sucrose diet for ~22 weeks. Using quantitative trait locus (QTL) analysis, we identified several genomic regions associated with variations in both bacterial and BA profiles. Notably, we found overlapping QTL for Turicibacter sp. and plasma cholic acid, which mapped to a locus containing the gene for the ileal bile acid transporter, Slc10a2. Mediation analysis and subsequent follow-up validation experiments suggest that differences in Slc10a2 gene expression associated with the different strains influences levels of both traits and revealed novel interactions between Turicibacter and BAs. This work illustrates how systems genetics can be utilized to generate testable hypotheses and provide insight into host-microbe interactions.

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