A phase-variable surface layer from the gut symbiont bacteroides thetaiotaomicron

Mao Taketani, Mohamed S. Abou Donia, Amy N. Jacobson, John D. Lambris, Michael A. Fischbach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The capsule from Bacteroides, a common gut symbiont, has long been a model system for studying the molecular mechanisms of host-symbiont interactions. The Bacteroides capsule is thought to consist of an array of phase-variable polysaccharides that give rise to subpopulations with distinct cell surface structures. Here, we report the serendipitous discovery of a previously unknown surface structure in Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron: a surface layer composed of a protein of unknown function, BT1927. BT1927, which is expressed in a phase-variable manner by ~1:1,000 cells in a wild-type culture, forms a hexagonally tessellated surface layer. The BT1927-expressing subpopulation is profoundly resistant to complement-mediated killing, due in part to the BT1927-mediated blockade of C3b deposition. Our results show that the Bacteroides surface structure is capable of a far greater degree of structural variation than previously known, and they suggest that structural variation within a Bacteroides species is important for productive gut colonization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere01339-15
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Virology
  • Microbiology


Dive into the research topics of 'A phase-variable surface layer from the gut symbiont bacteroides thetaiotaomicron'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this