Akkermansia muciniphila is a member of the Verrucomicrobia phylum and wass isolated recently in a quest to identify new mucus-degrading bacteria from human feces (Derrien et al. 2004). This bacterium appears to be a true symbiont of humans, detectable in the majority of tested subjects. It is abundantly present in the human intestinal tract, making up several % of the bacterial population in the colon. It is one of the driving forces in two of the three recently discovered human gut microbiome enterotypes (Arumugam et al 2011).
Akkermansia muciniphila research - mainly performed at Wageningen University
Germ-free mice are easily colonized by A. muciniphila, and show no aberrations but display a specific immunological colonic response indicating its capacity of host-signaling.A. muciniphila was the most abundantly identified mucolytic mucosa-associated bacterium in healthy controls when compared to patients with IBD and the amount of Akkermansia spp. were found to be inversely related to the severity of appendicitis, obesity and children with autism (for a review, see Belzer & de Vos, 2012). Hence, our research aims to elucidate the functionality of the mucin-degrading A. muciniphila in the intestinal tract.
We perform genome-based studies of the physiology and metabolism of A. muciniphila that is involved in mucin degradation. We employ genetic and immunological screens to measure the effects of A. muciniphila derived products on the host immune system. Furthermore we measure the persistence, abundance and, activity of Akkermansia spp. in the human gut in relation to diet, genetic background and, disease. Finally, we are isolating and characterizing new Akkermansia isolates in order to understand their evolution and host adaptation.
M Arumugam, J Raes, E Pelletier, D Le Paslier, T Yamada, DR Mende, GR Fernandes, J Tap, T Bruls, JM Batto, M Bertalan, N Borruel, F Casellas, L Fernandez, L Gautier, T Hansen, M Hattori, T Hayashi, M Kleerebezem, K Kurokawa, M Leclerc, F Levenez, C Manichanh, HB Nielsen, T Nielsen, N Pons, J Poulain, J Qin, T Sicheritz-Ponten, S Tims, D Torrents, E Ugarte, EG. Zoetendal, J Wang, F Guarner, O Pedersen, WM de Vos, S Brunak, J Doré, MetaHIT Consortium, J Weissenbach, SD Ehrlich, and P Bork (2011) Enterotypes of the human gut microbiome. Nature 473: 174-80.
M Derrien, EE Vaughan, CM Plugge & WM de Vos (2004) Akkermansia muciniphila gen. nov., sp. nov., a hunman intestinal mucin-degrading bacterium. Int. J. Syst. Evol. Microbiol. 54: 1469-76
C Belzer & WM de Vos (2012) Microbes Inside – From Diversity to Function: The Case of Akkermansia. ISME J in press