Lactobacillus reuteri-specific immunoregulatory gene rsiR modulates histamine production and immunomodulation by Lactobacillus reuteri

J Bacteriol. 2013 Dec;195(24):5567-76. doi: 10.1128/JB.00261-13. Epub 2013 Oct 11.


Human microbiome-derived strains of Lactobacillus reuteri potently suppress proinflammatory cytokines like human tumor necrosis factor (TNF) by converting the amino acid l-histidine to the biogenic amine histamine. Histamine suppresses mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase activation and cytokine production by signaling via histamine receptor type 2 (H2) on myeloid cells. Investigations of the gene expression profiles of immunomodulatory L. reuteri ATCC PTA 6475 highlighted numerous genes that were highly expressed during the stationary phase of growth, when TNF suppression is most potent. One such gene was found to be a regulator of genes involved in histidine-histamine metabolism by this probiotic species. During the course of these studies, this gene was renamed the Lactobacillus reuteri-specific immunoregulatory (rsiR) gene. The rsiR gene is essential for human TNF suppression by L. reuteri and expression of the histidine decarboxylase (hdc) gene cluster on the L. reuteri chromosome. Inactivation of rsiR resulted in diminished TNF suppression in vitro and reduced anti-inflammatory effects in vivo in a trinitrobenzene sulfonic acid (TNBS)-induced mouse model of acute colitis. A L. reuteri strain lacking an intact rsiR gene was unable to suppress colitis and resulted in greater concentrations of serum amyloid A (SAA) in the bloodstream of affected animals. The PhdcAB promoter region targeted by rsiR was defined by reporter gene experiments. These studies support the presence of a regulatory gene, rsiR, which modulates the expression of a gene cluster known to mediate immunoregulation by probiotics at the transcriptional level. These findings may point the way toward new strategies for controlling gene expression in probiotics by dietary interventions or microbiome manipulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Artificial Gene Fusion
  • Colitis / chemically induced
  • Colitis / microbiology
  • Colitis / pathology
  • Cytokines / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Histamine / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Immunomodulation*
  • Limosilactobacillus reuteri / genetics
  • Limosilactobacillus reuteri / immunology*
  • Limosilactobacillus reuteri / isolation & purification
  • Limosilactobacillus reuteri / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Microbiota
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Trinitrobenzenesulfonic Acid / toxicity


  • Cytokines
  • Transcription Factors
  • Histamine
  • Trinitrobenzenesulfonic Acid