Research ArticleMICROBIOLOGY

Bioactive polyamine production by a novel hybrid system comprising multiple indigenous gut bacterial strategies

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Science Advances  27 Jun 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 6, eaat0062
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aat0062


Metabolites of the intestinal microbiota are thought to be generated through metabolic pathways spanning multiple taxa of intestinal bacteria. We have previously shown that the level of putrescine, a polyamine found abundantly in the human intestinal lumen, is increased in the colonic lumen following administration of arginine and the probiotic Bifidobacterium sp.; however, the underlying mechanism remained poorly understood. We report a novel pathway for putrescine production from arginine through agmatine involving the collaboration of two bacterial groups, and triggered by environmental acidification (drop in pH to below 6.5 from neutral). This pathway comprises the acid tolerance system of Escherichia coli, representing bacteria that have an arginine-dependent acid resistance system; the energy production system of Enterococcus faecalis, representing bacteria that have an agmatine deiminase system; and the acid production system of the acid-producing bacteria, represented by Bifidobacterium spp. This pathway is unique in that it represents a relationship between the independent survival strategies of multiple bacteria.

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