Characterization of fructooligosaccharide metabolism and fructooligosaccharide-degrading enzymes in human commensal butyrate producers

Gut Microbes. 2021 Jan-Dec;13(1):1-20. doi: 10.1080/19490976.2020.1869503.


Butyrate produced by gut microbiota has multiple beneficial effects on host health, and oligosaccharides derived from host diets and glycans originating from host mucus are major sources of its production. A significant reduction of butyrate-producing bacteria has been reported in patients with inflammatory bowel diseases and colorectal cancers. Although gut butyrate levels are important for host health, oligosaccharide metabolic properties in butyrate producers are poorly characterized. We studied the metabolic properties of fructooligosaccharides (FOSs) and other prebiotic oligosaccharides (i.e. raffinose and xylooligosaccharides; XOSs) in gut butyrate producers. 1-Kestose (kestose) and nystose, FOSs with degrees of polymerization of 3 and 4, respectively, were also included. Fourteen species of butyrate producers were divided into four groups based on their oligosaccharide metabolic properties, which are group A (two species) metabolizing all oligosaccharides tested, group F (four species) metabolizing FOSs but not raffinose and XOSs, group XR (four species) metabolizing XOSs and/or raffinose but not FOSs, and group N (four species) metabolizing none of the oligosaccharides tested. Species assigned to groups A and XR are rich glycoside hydrolase (GH) holders, whereas those in groups F and N are the opposite. In total, 17 enzymes assigned to GH32 were observed in nine of the 14 butyrate producers tested, and species that metabolized FOSs had at least one active GH32 enzyme. The GH32 enzymes were divided into four clusters by phylogenetic analysis. Heterologous gene expression analysis revealed that the GH32 enzymes in each cluster had similar FOS degradation properties within clusters, which may be linked to the conservation/substitution of amino acids to bind with substrates in GH32 enzymes. This study provides important knowledge to understand the impact of FOS supplementation on the activation of gut butyrate producers. Abbreviations: SCFA, short chain fatty acid; FOS, fructooligosaccharide; XOS, xylooligosaccharide; CAZy, Carbohydrate Active Enzymes; CBM, carbohydrate-binding module; PUL, polysaccharide utilization locus; S6PH sucrose-6-phosphate hydrolase.

Keywords: Butyrate producing bacteria; GH32; fructooligosaccharide; genome; kestose; nystose.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / enzymology
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Butyrates / metabolism*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Genome, Bacterial / genetics
  • Glycoside Hydrolases / genetics
  • Glycoside Hydrolases / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Oligosaccharides / metabolism*
  • Phylogeny
  • Prebiotics / microbiology


  • Butyrates
  • Oligosaccharides
  • Prebiotics
  • fructooligosaccharide
  • Glycoside Hydrolases

Grants and funding

This study was supported by Tokyo University of Agriculture and by a grant from B Food Science Co. Ltd.