Research ArticleMICROBIOLOGY

Host-microbe cross-talk governs amino acid chirality to regulate survival and differentiation of B cells

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Science Advances  03 Mar 2021:
Vol. 7, no. 10, eabd6480
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abd6480


Organisms use l-amino acids (l-aa) for most physiological processes. Unlike other organisms, bacteria chiral-convert l-aa to d-configurations as essential components of their cell walls and as signaling molecules in their ecosystems. Mammals recognize microbe-associated molecules to initiate immune responses, but roles of bacterial d-amino acids (d-aa) in mammalian immune systems remain largely unknown. Here, we report that amino acid chirality balanced by bacteria-mammal cross-talk modulates intestinal B cell fate and immunoglobulin A (IgA) production. Bacterial d-aa stimulate M1 macrophages and promote survival of intestinal naïve B cells. Mammalian intestinal d-aa catabolism limits the number of B cells and restricts growth of symbiotic bacteria that activate T cell–dependent IgA class switching of the B cells. Loss of d-aa catabolism results in excessive IgA production and dysbiosis with altered IgA coating on bacteria. Thus, chiral conversion of amino acids is linked to bacterial recognition by mammals to control symbiosis with bacteria.

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