October 7, 2014 at 10:30 pm

MCB Seminar: Mechanisms of Immune Modulation by Gut Microbiota, Oct. 7

The Molecular & Cellular Biology Seminar presents Jonathan Young on “Mechanisms of Immune Modulation by Gut Microbiota” on Tuesday, Oct. 7, from 4:35 p.m. to 5:55 p.m. in Porter Hall 104.

Abstract: Microorganisms live all over the human body, outnumbering the human cells by a factor of ten to one. The largest numbers of these microbes are present in the intestinal tract. The bacteria in this area are beneficial to the host in many ways, the best known of which is their ability to metabolize substances which the human body cannot digest. Recently, partially due to increased ability to measure the makeup of the microbiota, interest has been shown in the ability of these organisms to modulate the immune response in the gut. Changes in the composition of the gut microbiota have been associated with diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease and colon cancer. The mechanisms by which the gut microbiota affects the immune system in these diseases are not well understood. One mechanism that has been reported recently is the production of short chain fatty acids, specifically butyrate, by the gut microbiota as a result of fermenting dietary fiber. Butyrate acts as a histone deacetylase inhibitor in naïve T cells, resulting in increased acetylation of the Foxp3 locus and an increased amount of the acetylated form of Foxp3, which is more stable and has enhanced activity. The increased Foxp3 results in more differentiation of regulatory T cells in the intestine. These cells have a tolerigenic effect on the intestines, limiting the inflammatory response to antigens in the intestinal lumen.


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