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TonB-dependent transport by the gut microbiota: novel aspects of an old problem

Lookup NU author(s): Dr David Bolam, Professor Bert van den Berg


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© 2018 Elsevier Ltd The lower human gastro-intestinal tract is inhabited by an extremely high density of micro-organisms, collectively termed the colonic microbiota. Just two bacterial phyla dominate this habitat, the Gram-positive Firmicutes and the Gram-negative Bacteroidetes. The colon is further characterised by a relative lack of small, easily accessible nutrients such as simple sugars, lipids and amino acids. Instead, a plethora of diet-derived and host polysaccharides constitute the main source of nutrients. Due to their size and complexity, the uptake of such glycans for metabolic utilisation is an energy-dependent process, which in Bacteroides spp. is mediated by an outer membrane protein complex consisting of a SusC-like TonB-dependent transporter and a SusD-like substrate binding protein. In this review, we discuss our understanding of the mechanism of nutrient import by SusCD-like complexes and highlight aspects in which SusCD-mediated uptake differs from classical TonB-dependent transport.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Bolam DN, van den Berg B

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Current Opinion in Structural Biology

Year: 2018

Volume: 51

Pages: 35-43

Print publication date: 01/08/2018

Online publication date: 15/03/2018

Acceptance date: 02/04/2016

ISSN (print): 0959-440X

ISSN (electronic): 1879-033X

Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


DOI: 10.1016/