All Publications

  • A widely distributed gene cluster compensates for uricase loss in hominids. Cell Liu, Y., Jarman, J. B., Low, Y. S., Augustijn, H. E., Huang, S., Chen, H., DeFeo, M. E., Sekiba, K., Hou, B. H., Meng, X., Weakley, A. M., Cabrera, A. V., Zhou, Z., van Wezel, G., Medema, M. H., Ganesan, C., Pao, A. C., Gombar, S., Dodd, D. 2023; 186 (16): 3400-3413.e20


    Approximately 15% of US adults have circulating levels of uric acid above its solubility limit, which is causally linked to the disease gout. In most mammals, uric acid elimination is facilitated by the enzyme uricase. However, human uricase is a pseudogene, having been inactivated early in hominid evolution. Though it has long been known that uric acid is eliminated in the gut, the role of the gut microbiota in hyperuricemia has not been studied. Here, we identify a widely distributed bacterial gene cluster that encodes a pathway for uric acid degradation. Stable isotope tracing demonstrates that gut bacteria metabolize uric acid to xanthine or short chain fatty acids. Ablation of the microbiota in uricase-deficient mice causes severe hyperuricemia, and anaerobe-targeted antibiotics increase the risk of gout in humans. These data reveal a role for the gut microbiota in uric acid excretion and highlight the potential for microbiome-targeted therapeutics in hyperuricemia.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cell.2023.06.010

    View details for PubMedID 37541197

  • Oxidative ornithine metabolism supports non-inflammatory C.difficile colonization. Nature metabolism Pruss, K. M., Enam, F., Battaglioli, E., DeFeo, M., Diaz, O. R., Higginbottom, S. K., Fischer, C. R., Hryckowian, A. J., Van Treuren, W., Dodd, D., Kashyap, P., Sonnenburg, J. L. 1800


    The enteric pathogen Clostridioidesdifficile (Cd) is responsible for a toxin-mediated infection that causes more than 200,000 recorded hospitalizations and 13,000 deaths in the United States every year1. However, Cd can colonize the gut in the absence of disease symptoms. Prevalence of asymptomatic colonization by toxigenic Cd in healthy populations is high; asymptomatic carriers are at increased risk of infection compared to noncolonized individuals and may be a reservoir for transmission of Cd infection2,3. Elucidating the molecular mechanisms by which Cd persists in the absence of disease is necessary for understanding pathogenesis and developing refined therapeutic strategies. Here, we show with gut microbiome metatranscriptomic analysis that mice recalcitrant to Cd infection and inflammation exhibit increased community-wide expression of arginine and ornithine metabolic pathways. To query Cd metabolism specifically, we leverage RNA sequencing in gnotobiotic mice infected with two wild-type strains (630 and R20291) and isogenic toxin-deficient mutants of these strains to differentiate inflammation-dependent versus -independent transcriptional states. A single operon encoding oxidative ornithine degradation is consistently upregulated across non-toxigenic Cd strains. Combining untargeted and targeted metabolomics with bacterial and host genetics, we demonstrate that both diet- and host-derived sources of ornithine provide a competitive advantage to Cd, suggesting a mechanism for Cd persistence within a non-inflammatory, healthy gut.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s42255-021-00506-4

    View details for PubMedID 34992297