Honors & Awards
NRSA/F32 Postdoctoral Fellowship, NIH (2019-present)
School of Medicine Dean's Postdoctoral Fellowship, Stanford University School of Medicine (2018-2019)
Doctor of Philosophy, Stanford University, GENE-PHD (2017)
Bachelor of Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Biology (2009)
Justin Sonnenburg, Postdoctoral Faculty Sponsor
A metabolomics pipeline for the mechanistic interrogation of the gut microbiome.
2021; 595 (7867): 415-420
Gut microorganisms modulate host phenotypes and are associated with numerous health effects in humans, ranging from host responses to cancer immunotherapy to metabolic disease and obesity. However, difficulty in accurate and high-throughput functional analysis of human gut microorganisms has hindered efforts to define mechanistic connections between individual microbial strains and host phenotypes. One key way in which the gut microbiome influences host physiology is through the production of small molecules1-3, yet progress in elucidating this chemical interplay has been hindered by limited tools calibrated to detect the products of anaerobic biochemistry in the gut. Here we construct a microbiome-focused, integrated mass-spectrometry pipeline to accelerate the identification of microbiota-dependent metabolites in diverse sample types. We report the metabolic profiles of 178 gut microorganism strains using our library of 833 metabolites. Using this metabolomics resource, we establish deviations in the relationships between phylogeny and metabolism, use machine learning to discover a previously undescribed type of metabolism in Bacteroides, and reveal candidate biochemical pathways using comparative genomics. Microbiota-dependent metabolites can be detected in diverse biological fluids from gnotobiotic and conventionally colonized mice and traced back to the corresponding metabolomic profiles of cultured bacteria. Collectively, our microbiome-focused metabolomics pipeline and interactive metabolomics profile explorer are a powerful tool for characterizing microorganisms and interactions between microorganisms and their host.
View details for DOI 10.1038/s41586-021-03707-9
View details for PubMedID 34262212
Gut-microbiota-targeted diets modulate human immune status.
Diet modulates the gut microbiome, which in turn can impact the immune system. Here, we determined how two microbiota-targeted dietary interventions, plant-based fiber and fermented foods, influence the human microbiome and immune system in healthy adults. Using a 17-week randomized, prospective study (n = 18/arm) combined with -omics measurements of microbiome and host, including extensive immune profiling, we found diet-specific effects. The high-fiber diet increased microbiome-encoded glycan-degrading carbohydrate active enzymes (CAZymes) despite stable microbial community diversity. Although cytokine response score (primary outcome) was unchanged, three distinct immunological trajectories in high-fiber consumers corresponded to baseline microbiota diversity. Alternatively, the high-fermented-food diet steadily increased microbiota diversity and decreased inflammatory markers. The data highlight how coupling dietary interventions to deep and longitudinal immune and microbiome profiling can provide individualized and population-wide insight. Fermented foods may be valuable in countering the decreased microbiome diversity and increased inflammation pervasive in industrialized society.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cell.2021.06.019
View details for PubMedID 34256014
Longitudinal Multi-omics Reveals Subset-Specific Mechanisms Underlying Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
The gut microbiome has been implicated in multiple human chronic gastrointestinal (GI) disorders. Determining its mechanistic role in disease has been difficult due to apparent disconnects between animal and human studies and lack of an integrated multi-omics view of disease-specific physiological changes. We integrated longitudinal multi-omics data from the gut microbiome, metabolome, host epigenome, and transcriptome in the context of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) host physiology. We identified IBS subtype-specific and symptom-related variation in microbial composition and function. A subset of identified changes in microbial metabolites correspond to host physiological mechanisms that are relevant to IBS. By integrating multiple data layers, we identified purine metabolism as a novel host-microbial metabolic pathway in IBS with translational potential. Our study highlights the importance of longitudinal sampling and integrating complementary multi-omics data to identify functional mechanisms that can serve as therapeutic targets in a comprehensive treatment strategy for chronic GI diseases. VIDEO ABSTRACT.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cell.2020.08.007
View details for PubMedID 32916129
Mono-unsaturated fatty acids link H3K4me3 modifiers to C. elegans lifespan
2017; 544 (7649): 185-?
Chromatin and metabolic states both influence lifespan, but how they interact in lifespan regulation is largely unknown. The COMPASS chromatin complex, which trimethylates lysine 4 on histone H3 (H3K4me3), regulates lifespan in Caenorhabditis elegans. However, the mechanism by which H3K4me3 modifiers affect longevity, and whether this mechanism involves metabolic changes, remain unclear. Here we show that a deficiency in H3K4me3 methyltransferase, which extends lifespan, promotes fat accumulation in worms with a specific enrichment of mono-unsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). This fat metabolism switch in H3K4me3 methyltransferase-deficient worms is mediated at least in part by the downregulation of germline targets, including S6 kinase, and by the activation of an intestinal transcriptional network that upregulates delta-9 fatty acid desaturases. Notably, the accumulation of MUFAs is necessary for the lifespan extension of H3K4me3 methyltransferase-deficient worms, and dietary MUFAs are sufficient to extend lifespan. Given the conservation of lipid metabolism, dietary or endogenous MUFAs could extend lifespan and healthspan in other species, including mammals.
View details for DOI 10.1038/nature21686
View details for Web of Science ID 000398897900028
View details for PubMedID 28379943
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5391274
p19(Arf) is required for the cellular response to chronic DNA damage.
2016; 35 (33): 4414-4421
The p53 tumor suppressor is a stress sensor, driving cell cycle arrest or apoptosis in response to DNA damage or oncogenic signals. p53 activation by oncogenic signals relies on the p19(Arf) tumor suppressor, while p53 activation downstream of acute DNA damage is reported to be p19(Arf)-independent. Accordingly, p19(Arf)-deficient mouse embryo fibroblasts (MEFs) arrest in response to acute DNA damage. However, p19(Arf) is required for replicative senescence, a condition associated with an activated DNA damage response, as p19(Arf)-/- MEFs do not senesce after serial passage. A possible explanation for these seemingly disparate roles for p19(Arf) is that acute and chronic DNA damage responses are mechanistically distinct. Replicative senescence may result from chronic, low-dose DNA damage responses in which p19(Arf) has a specific role. We therefore examined the role of p19(Arf) in cellular responses to chronic, low-dose DNA-damaging agent treatment by maintaining MEFs in low oxygen and administering 0.5 G y γ-irradiation daily or 150 μM hydroxyurea, a replication stress inducer. In contrast to their response to acute DNA damage, p19(Arf)-/- MEFs exposed to chronic DNA damage do not senesce, revealing a selective role for p19(Arf) in senescence upon low-level, chronic DNA damage. We show further that p53 pathway activation in p19(Arf)-/- MEFs exposed to chronic DNA damage is attenuated relative to wild-type MEFs, suggesting a role for p19(Arf) in fine-tuning p53 activity. However, combined Nutlin3a and chronic DNA-damaging agent treatment is insufficient to promote senescence in p19(Arf)-/- MEFs, suggesting that the role of p19(Arf) in the chronic DNA damage response may be partially p53-independent. These data suggest the importance of p19(Arf) for the cellular response to the low-level DNA damage incurred in culture or upon oncogene expression, providing new insight into how p19(Arf) serves as a tumor suppressor. Moreover, our study helps reconcile reports suggesting crucial roles for both p19(Arf) and DNA damage-signaling pathways in tumor suppression.
View details for DOI 10.1038/onc.2015.490
View details for PubMedID 26725325
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4931997
- Cell biology. Lysosomal lipid lengthens life span. Science 2015; 347 (6217): 32-33
Histone methylation makes its mark on longevity
TRENDS IN CELL BIOLOGY
2012; 22 (1): 42-49
How long organisms live is not entirely written in their genes. Recent findings reveal that epigenetic factors that regulate histone methylation, a type of chromatin modification, can affect lifespan. The reversible nature of chromatin modifications suggests that therapeutic targeting of chromatin regulators could be used to extend lifespan and healthspan. This review describes the epigenetic regulation of lifespan in diverse model organisms, focusing on the role and mode of action of chromatin regulators that affect two epigenetic marks, trimethylated lysine 4 of histone H3 (H3K4me3) and trimethylated lysine 27 of histone H3 (H3K27me3), in longevity.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.tcb.2011.11.001
View details for Web of Science ID 000299450400005
View details for PubMedID 22177962
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3253950
Members of the H3K4 trimethylation complex regulate lifespan in a germline-dependent manner in C. elegans
2010; 466 (7304): 383-U137
The plasticity of ageing suggests that longevity may be controlled epigenetically by specific alterations in chromatin state. The link between chromatin and ageing has mostly focused on histone deacetylation by the Sir2 family, but less is known about the role of other histone modifications in longevity. Histone methylation has a crucial role in development and in maintaining stem cell pluripotency in mammals. Regulators of histone methylation have been associated with ageing in worms and flies, but characterization of their role and mechanism of action has been limited. Here we identify the ASH-2 trithorax complex, which trimethylates histone H3 at lysine 4 (H3K4), as a regulator of lifespan in Caenorhabditis elegans in a directed RNA interference (RNAi) screen in fertile worms. Deficiencies in members of the ASH-2 complex-ASH-2 itself, WDR-5 and the H3K4 methyltransferase SET-2-extend worm lifespan. Conversely, the H3K4 demethylase RBR-2 is required for normal lifespan, consistent with the idea that an excess of H3K4 trimethylation-a mark associated with active chromatin-is detrimental for longevity. Lifespan extension induced by ASH-2 complex deficiency requires the presence of an intact adult germline and the continuous production of mature eggs. ASH-2 and RBR-2 act in the germline, at least in part, to regulate lifespan and to control a set of genes involved in lifespan determination. These results indicate that the longevity of the soma is regulated by an H3K4 methyltransferase/demethylase complex acting in the C. elegans germline.
View details for DOI 10.1038/nature09195
View details for Web of Science ID 000279867100052
View details for PubMedID 20555324
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3075006