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mSystems. 2019 Sep 3;4(5). pii: e00323-18. doi: 10.1128/mSystems.00323-18.

Gut Microbiota Has a Widespread and Modifiable Effect on Host Gene Regulation.

Author information

1
Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, USA.
2
Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Development, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.
3
Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.
4
Department of Biology, Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA.
5
Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, USA rpique@wayne.edu blekhman@umn.edu fluca@wayne.edu.
6
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, USA.
7
Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Development, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA rpique@wayne.edu blekhman@umn.edu fluca@wayne.edu.

Abstract

Variation in gut microbiome is associated with wellness and disease in humans, and yet the molecular mechanisms by which this variation affects the host are not well understood. A likely mechanism is that of changing gene regulation in interfacing host epithelial cells. Here, we treated colonic epithelial cells with live microbiota from five healthy individuals and quantified induced changes in transcriptional regulation and chromatin accessibility in host cells. We identified over 5,000 host genes that change expression, including 588 distinct associations between specific taxa and host genes. The taxa with the strongest influence on gene expression alter the response of genes associated with complex traits. Using ATAC-seq, we showed that a subset of these changes in gene expression are associated with changes in host chromatin accessibility and transcription factor binding induced by exposure to gut microbiota. We then created a manipulated microbial community with titrated doses of Collinsella, demonstrating that manipulation of the composition of the microbiome under both natural and controlled conditions leads to distinct and predictable gene expression profiles in host cells. Taken together, our results suggest that specific microbes play an important role in regulating expression of individual host genes involved in human complex traits. The ability to fine-tune the expression of host genes by manipulating the microbiome suggests future therapeutic routes.IMPORTANCE The composition of the gut microbiome has been associated with various aspects of human health, but the mechanism of this interaction is still unclear. We utilized a cellular system to characterize the effect of the microbiome on human gene expression. We showed that some of these changes in expression may be mediated by changes in chromatin accessibility. Furthermore, we validate the role of a specific microbe and show that changes in its abundance can modify the host gene expression response. These results show an important role of gut microbiota in regulating host gene expression and suggest that manipulation of microbiome composition could be useful in future therapies.

KEYWORDS:

gene expression; genomics; microbiome

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