Mucin O-glycans facilitate symbiosynthesis to maintain gut immune homeostasis

Takahiro Yamada, Shingo Hino, Hideki Iijima, Tomomi Genda, Ryo Aoki, Ryuji Nagata, Ho Han, Masato Hirota, Yusuke Kinashi, Hiroyuki Oguchi, Wataru Suda, Yukihiro Furusawa, Yumiko Fujimura, Jun Kunisawa, Masahira Hattori, Michihiro Fukushima, Tatsuya Morita, Koji Hase

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The dysbiosis of gut microbiota has been implicated in the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs); however, the underlying mechanisms have not yet been elucidated. Heavily glycosylated mucin not only establishes a first-line barrier against pathogens, but also serves as a niche for microbial growth. We hypothesized that dysbiosis may cause abnormal mucin utilization and microbial metabolic dysfunction. To test this hypothesis, we analyzed short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) and mucin components in the stool samples of 40 healthy subjects, 49 ulcerative colitis (UC) patients, and 44 Crohn's disease (CD) patients from Japan. The levels of n-butyrate were significantly lower in the stools of both the CD and UC patients than in those of the healthy subjects. Correlation analysis identified 7 bacterial species positively correlated with n-butyrate levels, among which the major n-butyrate producer, Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, was particularly underrepresented in CD patients, but not in UC patients. In UC patients, there were inverse correlations between mucin O-glycan levels and the production of SCFAs, such as n-butyrate, suggesting that mucin O-glycans act as an endogenous fermentation substrate for n-butyrate production. Indeed, mucin-fed rodents exhibited enhanced n-butyrate production, leading to the expansion of RORgt+Treg cells and IgA-producing cells in the colonic lamina propria. Importantly, the availability of mucin-associated O-glycans to the microbiota was significantly reduced in n-butyrate-deficient UC patients. Taken together, our findings highlight the biological significance of the symbiosynthesis pathway in the production of n-butyrate, which maintains gut immune homeostasis.

Original languageEnglish
JournalUnknown Journal
Publication statusPublished - 2019 May 30

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)

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