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See detailSystematic prediction of health-relevant human-microbial co-metabolism through a computational framework
Heinken, Almut Katrin UL; Thiele, Ines UL

in Gut Microbes (2015), 6(2), 120-130

The gut microbiota is well known to affect host metabolic phenotypes. The systemic effects of the gut microbiota on host metabolism are generally evaluated via the comparison of germfree and conventional ... [more ▼]

The gut microbiota is well known to affect host metabolic phenotypes. The systemic effects of the gut microbiota on host metabolism are generally evaluated via the comparison of germfree and conventional mice, which is impossible to perform for humans. Hence, it remains difficult to determine the impact of the gut microbiota on human metabolic phenotypes. We demonstrate that a constraint-based modeling framework that simulates “germfree” and “exgermfree” human individuals can partially fill this gap and allow for in silico predictions of systemic human-microbial cometabolism. To this end, we constructed the first constraint-based host-microbial community model, comprising the most comprehensive model of human metabolism and 11 manually curated, validated metabolic models of commensals, probiotics, pathogens, and opportunistic pathogens. We used this host-microbiota model to predict potential metabolic host-microbe interactions under 4 in silico dietary regimes. Our model predicts that gut microbes secrete numerous health-relevant metabolites into the lumen, thereby modulating the molecular composition of the body fluid metabolome. Our key results include the following: 1. Replacing a commensal community with pathogens caused a loss of important host metabolic functions. 2. The gut microbiota can produce important precursors of host hormone synthesis and thus serves as an endocrine organ. 3. The synthesis of important neurotransmitters is elevated in the presence of the gut microbiota. 4. Gut microbes contribute essential precursors for glutathione, taurine, and leukotrienes. This computational modeling framework provides novel insight into complex metabolic host-microbiota interactions and can serve as a powerful tool with which to generate novel, non-obvious hypotheses regarding host-microbe co-metabolism. [less ▲]

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See detailSystems-level characterization of a host-microbe metabolic symbiosis in the mammalian gut.
Heinken, Almut Katrin UL; Sahoo, Swagatika UL; Fleming, Ronan MT UL et al

in Gut microbes (2013), 4(1), 28-40

The human gut microbiota consists of ten times more microorganisms than there are cells in our body, processes otherwise indigestible nutrients, and produces important energy precursors, essential amino ... [more ▼]

The human gut microbiota consists of ten times more microorganisms than there are cells in our body, processes otherwise indigestible nutrients, and produces important energy precursors, essential amino acids, and vitamins. In this study, we assembled and validated a genome-scale metabolic reconstruction of Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron (iAH991), a prominent representative of the human gut microbiota, consisting of 1488 reactions, 1152 metabolites, and 991 genes. To create a comprehensive metabolic model of host-microbe interactions, we integrated iAH991 with a previously published mouse metabolic reconstruction, which was extended for intestinal transport and absorption reactions. The two metabolic models were linked through a joint compartment, the lumen, allowing metabolite exchange and providing a route for simulating different dietary regimes. The resulting model consists of 7239 reactions, 5164 metabolites, and 2769 genes. We simultaneously modeled growth of mouse and B. thetaiotaomicron on five different diets varying in fat, carbohydrate, and protein content. The integrated model captured mutually beneficial cross-feeding as well as competitive interactions. Furthermore, we identified metabolites that were exchanged between the two organisms, which were compared with published metabolomics data. This analysis resulted for the first time in a comprehensive description of the co-metabolism between a host and its commensal microbe. We also demonstrate in silico that the presence of B. thetaiotaomicron could rescue the growth phenotype of the host with an otherwise lethal enzymopathy and vice versa. This systems approach represents a powerful tool for modeling metabolic interactions between a gut microbe and its host in health and disease. [less ▲]

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