Department of Molecular Biology, Division of Biological Sciences, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, CA, United States of America.
The communities of beneficial bacteria that live in our intestines, the gut microbiome, are important for the development and function of the immune system. Bacteroides species make up a significant fraction of the human gut microbiome, and can be probiotic and pathogenic, depending upon various genetic and environmental factors. These can cause disease conditions such as intra-abdominal sepsis, appendicitis, bacteremia, endocarditis, pericarditis, skin infections, brain abscesses and meningitis. In this study, we identify the transport systems and predict their substrates within seven Bacteroides species, all shown to be probiotic; however, four of them (B. thetaiotaomicron, B. vulgatus, B. ovatus, B. fragilis) can be pathogenic (probiotic and pathogenic; PAP), while B. cellulosilyticus, B. salanitronis and B. dorei are believed to play only probiotic roles (only probiotic; OP). The transport system characteristics of the four PAP and three OP strains were identified and tabulated, and results were compared among the seven strains, and with E. coli and Salmonella strains. The Bacteroides strains studied contain similarities and differences in the numbers and types of transport proteins tabulated, but both OP and PAP strains contain similar outer membrane carbohydrate receptors, pore-forming toxins and protein secretion systems, the similarities were noteworthy, but these Bacteroides strains showed striking differences with probiotic and pathogenic enteric bacteria, particularly with respect to their high affinity outer membrane receptors and auxiliary proteins involved in complex carbohydrate utilization. The results reveal striking similarities between the PAP and OP species of Bacteroides, and suggest that OP species may possess currently unrecognized pathogenic potential.
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