Investigating the diversity and role of carbohydrate-active proteins/enzymes in human gut microbiota

Lead Research Organisation: Institute of Food Research
Department Name: Contracts


The aim of the research is to exploit recent developments in human (meta) genomics to explore the diversity and specificity of enzymes and proteins involved in carbohydrate metabolism in the human gut. Approaches including functional and comparative genomics, metabolomics and gnotobiotic mouse models will be used to study the molecular events underlying the adaptation of gut bacteria to diet and the effect on host response. This is complemented by detailed molecular enzymology and structural studies of human gut glycoside hydrolases and binding modules involved in hydrolysis of complex polysaccharides.


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Description This research identified important enzymes and proteins involved in carbohydrate metabolism in the human gut. These included carbohydrate-active enzymes from gut bacteria , which we showed could be used to synthesise prebiotics, and bacterial adhesins shown to be important for the ability of gut bacteria to interact with the host.
Exploitation Route Our findings on carbohydrate-active enzymes can be used for application in biotechnological sectors for enzymatic synthesis of oligosaccharides (prebiotics) or for enzymatic degradation of biomass (biofuels).
Our findings on mucus-binding proteins can be used for selection/engineering of probiotics strains or for targeted delivery of therapeutic molecules to mucosal environment.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology

Description Our findings have been used to support a number of grant applications, published in scientific Journals and formed the basis of several PhD studentships. Four PhD students have now completed their thesis and secured post-doctoral positions. We have also contributed to the development of new methodologies in the field of glycobiology.