A Model of Host-Microbial Interactions in an Open Mammalian Ecosystem

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Science  06 Sep 1996:
Vol. 273, Issue 5280, pp. 1380-1383
DOI: 10.1126/science.273.5280.1380


The maintenance and significance of the complex populations of microbes present in the mammalian intestine are poorly understood. Comparison of conventionally housed and germ-free NMRI mice revealed that production of fucosylated glycoconjugates and an α1,2-fucosyltransferase messenger RNA in the small-intestinal epithelium requires the normal microflora. Colonization of germ-free mice with Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron, a component of this flora, restored the fucosylation program, whereas an isogenic strain carrying a transposon insertion that disrupts its ability to use L-fucose as a carbon source did not. Simplified models such as this should aid the study of open microbial ecosystems.

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