Clostridial metabolite production
The clostridia are Firmicute bacterial commensals commonly found in the mammalian gut. Clostridia produce a range of metabolites that diffuse into the host’s circulation and have been difficult to manipulate genetically, but Guo et al. successfully developed a CRISPR-Cas9 deletion system in Clostridium sporogenes (see the Perspective by Henke and Clardy). The authors used deletion mutants and mass spectrometry to elucidate clostridial synthesis of several different branched short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), including isobutyrate, 2-methylbutyrate, and isovalerate. Germ-free mice colonized with mutants incapable of synthesizing SCFAs showed altered immunoglobulin A production. This finding potentially links bacterial SCFA production and host responses to the presence of the clostridia.
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