This week saw our newest pre-print arrive on bioRxiv! Postdoc Stacey Heaver shows that inositol lipid production is more widespread in bacteria than previously thought and identifies two pathways for their production in Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron (B. theta).
Inositol lipids are commonly associated with eukaryotes where they are involved in the regulation of cell fate, inflammation, and protein trafficking, however evidence is accumulating that some gut-associated bacteria can also produce them via unknown pathways. Using a combination of structural, kinetic, transcriptomic and lipidomic analyses, Stacey identified the inositol lipid synthesis gene cluster for B. theta and successfully characterised the biosynthetic pathway for their production. Not content with that, she even identified a novel, alternative pathway and shows that these mechanisms are widespread in host-associated Bacteroidetes.
As inositol lipids have been implicated in pathogen-host interactions, this work provides an important first insight into how these lipids are produced by one of the most ubiquitous human gut commensals. Congratulations Stacey!
Heaver, S.L., Le, H., Tang, P., Baslé, A., Marles-Wright, J., Johnson, E.L., Campopiano, D.J., Ley, R.E. (2021). Inositol lipid synthesis is widespread in host-associated Bacteroidetes. bioRxiv: https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.04.26.441525