Genetic mapping of microbial and host traits reveals production of immunomodulatory lipids by Akkermansia muciniphila in the murine gut

Nat Microbiol. 2023 Mar;8(3):424-440. doi: 10.1038/s41564-023-01326-w. Epub 2023 Feb 9.


The molecular bases of how host genetic variation impacts the gut microbiome remain largely unknown. Here we used a genetically diverse mouse population and applied systems genetics strategies to identify interactions between host and microbe phenotypes including microbial functions, using faecal metagenomics, small intestinal transcripts and caecal lipids that influence microbe-host dynamics. Quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping identified murine genomic regions associated with variations in bacterial taxa; bacterial functions including motility, sporulation and lipopolysaccharide production and levels of bacterial- and host-derived lipids. We found overlapping QTL for the abundance of Akkermansia muciniphila and caecal levels of ornithine lipids. Follow-up in vitro and in vivo studies revealed that A. muciniphila is a major source of these lipids in the gut, provided evidence that ornithine lipids have immunomodulatory effects and identified intestinal transcripts co-regulated with these traits including Atf3, which encodes for a transcription factor that plays vital roles in modulating metabolism and immunity. Collectively, these results suggest that ornithine lipids are potentially important for A. muciniphila-host interactions and support the role of host genetics as a determinant of responses to gut microbes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Akkermansia / genetics
  • Animals
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome* / genetics
  • Mice
  • Phenotype
  • Verrucomicrobia* / genetics

Supplementary concepts

  • Akkermansia muciniphila