Two extracellular α-arabinofuranosidases are required for cereal-derived arabinoxylan metabolism by Bifidobacterium longum subsp. longum

Gut Microbes. 2024 Jan-Dec;16(1):2353229. doi: 10.1080/19490976.2024.2353229. Epub 2024 May 16.


Members of the genus Bifidobacterium are commonly found in the human gut and are known to utilize complex carbohydrates that are indigestible by the human host. Members of the Bifidobacterium longum subsp. longum taxon can metabolize various plant-derived carbohydrates common to the human diet. To metabolize such polysaccharides, which include arabinoxylan, bifidobacteria need to encode appropriate carbohydrate-active enzymes in their genome. In the current study, we describe two GH43 family enzymes, denoted here as AxuA and AxuB, which are encoded by B. longum subsp. longum NCIMB 8809 and are shown to be required for cereal-derived arabinoxylan metabolism by this strain. Based on the observed hydrolytic activity of AxuA and AxuB, assessed by employing various synthetic and natural substrates, and based on in silico analyses, it is proposed that both AxuA and AxuB represent extracellular α-L-arabinofuranosidases with distinct substrate preferences. The variable presence of the axuA and axuB genes and other genes previously described to be involved in the metabolism of arabinose-containing glycans can in the majority cases explain the (in)ability of individual B. longum subsp. longum strains to grow on cereal-derived arabinoxylans and arabinan.

Keywords: Dietary fiber; bifidobacterial; gut microbiota; prebiotic; probiotic.

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Bifidobacterium longum* / enzymology
  • Bifidobacterium longum* / genetics
  • Bifidobacterium longum* / metabolism
  • Edible Grain* / metabolism
  • Edible Grain* / microbiology
  • Glycoside Hydrolases* / genetics
  • Glycoside Hydrolases* / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Substrate Specificity
  • Xylans* / metabolism


  • arabinoxylan
  • alpha-N-arabinofuranosidase