Degradation of complex arabinoxylans by human colonic Bacteroidetes

Gabriel V. Pereira, Ahmed M. Abdel-Hamid, Soumajit Dutta, Corina N. D’Alessandro-Gabazza, Daniel Wefers, Jacob A. Farris, Shiv Bajaj, Zdzislaw Wawrzak, Haruyuki Atomi, Roderick I. Mackie, Esteban C. Gabazza, Diwakar Shukla, Nicole M. Koropatkin, Isaac Cann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Some Bacteroidetes and other human colonic bacteria can degrade arabinoxylans, common polysaccharides found in dietary fiber. Previous work has identified gene clusters (polysaccharide-utilization loci, PULs) for degradation of simple arabinoxylans. However, the degradation of complex arabinoxylans (containing side chains such as ferulic acid, a phenolic compound) is poorly understood. Here, we identify a PUL that encodes multiple esterases for degradation of complex arabinoxylans in Bacteroides species. The PUL is specifically upregulated in the presence of complex arabinoxylans. We characterize some of the esterases biochemically and structurally, and show that they release ferulic acid from complex arabinoxylans. Growth of four different colonic Bacteroidetes members, including Bacteroides intestinalis, on complex arabinoxylans results in accumulation of ferulic acid, a compound known to have antioxidative and immunomodulatory properties.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number459
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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