Bacterial symbionts induce a FUT2-dependent fucosylated niche on colonic epithelium via ERK and JNK signaling

Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2007 Oct;293(4):G780-7. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.00010.2007. Epub 2007 Aug 2.


The intestinal epithelium of the adult gut supports a complex, dynamic microbial ecosystem and expresses highly fucosylated glycans on its surface. Uncolonized gut contains little fucosylated glycan. The transition toward adult colonization, such as during recovery from germ-free status or from antibiotic treatment, increased expression of fucosylated epitopes in the colonic epithelium. This increase in fucosylation is accompanied by induction of fut2 mRNA expression and alpha1,2/3-fucosyltransferase activity. Colonization stimulates ERK and JNK signal transduction pathways, resulting in activation of transcription factors ATF2 and c-Jun, respectively. This increases transcription of fut2 mRNA and expression of alpha1,2/3-fucosyltransferase activity, resulting in a highly fucosylated intestinal mucosa characteristic of the adult mammalian gut. Blocking the ERK and JNK signaling cascade inhibits the ability of colonization to induce elevated fut2 mRNA and fucosyltransferase activity in the mature colon. Thus pioneer-mutualist symbiotic bacteria may utilize the ERK and JNK signaling cascade to induce the high degree of fucosylation characteristic of adult mammalian colon, and we speculate that this fucosylation facilitates colonization by adult microbiota.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Colon / microbiology*
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases / physiology*
  • Fucosyltransferases / physiology*
  • Germ-Free Life
  • Intestinal Mucosa / microbiology*
  • JNK Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Symbiosis*


  • Fucosyltransferases
  • galactoside 2-alpha-L-fucosyltransferase
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases
  • JNK Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases