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The composition of the gut microbiota shapes the colon mucus barrier.

Journal article
Authors Hedvig E Jakobsson
Ana María Rodríguez-Piñeiro
André Schütte
Anna Ermund
Preben Boysen
Mats Bemark
Felix Sommer
Fredrik Bäckhed
Gunnar C. Hansson
Malin E V Johansson
Published in EMBO reports
Volume 16
Pages 164-177
ISSN 1469-3178
Publication year 2015
Published at Wallenberg Laboratory
Institute of Biomedicine, Department of Microbiology and Immunology
Institute of Biomedicine, Department of Medical Biochemistry and Cell Biology
Pages 164-177
Language en
Subject categories Medical cell biology, Cell biology, Cell and Molecular Biology, Basic Medicine


Two C57BL/6 mice colonies maintained in two rooms of the same specific pathogen-free (SPF) facility were found to have different gut microbiota and a mucus phenotype that was specific for each colony. The thickness and growth of the colon mucus were similar in the two colonies. However, one colony had mucus that was impenetrable to bacteria or beads the size of bacteria-which is comparable to what we observed in free-living wild mice-whereas the other colony had an inner mucus layer penetrable to bacteria and beads. The different properties of the mucus depended on the microbiota, as they were transmissible by transfer of caecal microbiota to germ-free mice. Mice with an impenetrable mucus layer had increased amounts of Erysipelotrichi, whereas mice with a penetrable mucus layer had higher levels of Proteobacteria and TM7 bacteria in the distal colon mucus. Thus, our study shows that bacteria and their community structure affect mucus barrier properties in ways that can have implications for health and disease. It also highlights that genetically identical animals housed in the same facility can have rather distinct microbiotas and barrier structures.

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