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A Forward Chemical Genetic Screen Reveals Gut Microbiota Metabolites That Modulate Host Physiology

Chen, Haiwei, Nwe, Phu-Khat, Yang, Yi, Rosen, Connor E., Bielecka, Agata A., Kuchroo, Manik, Cline, Gary W., Kruse, Andrew C., Ring, Aaron M., Crawford, Jason M., Palm, Noah W.
Cell 2019 v.177 no.5 pp. 1217-1231.e18
G-protein coupled receptors, G-proteins, agonists, amine oxidase (flavin-containing), bacteria, blood-brain barrier, enzyme inhibitors, essential amino acids, histamine, histidine, humans, intestinal microorganisms, metabolites, metabolome, phenethylamine, poisoning
The intestinal microbiota produces tens of thousands of metabolites. Here, we used host sensing of small molecules by G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) as a lens to illuminate bioactive microbial metabolites that impact host physiology. We screened 144 human gut bacteria against the non-olfactory GPCRome and identified dozens of bacteria that activated both well-characterized and orphan GPCRs, including strains that converted dietary histidine into histamine and shaped colonic motility; a prolific producer of the essential amino acid L-Phe, which we identified as an agonist for GPR56 and GPR97; and a species that converted L-Phe into the potent psychoactive trace amine phenethylamine, which crosses the blood-brain barrier and triggers lethal phenethylamine poisoning after monoamine oxidase inhibitor administration. These studies establish an orthogonal approach for parsing the microbiota metabolome and uncover multiple biologically relevant host-microbiota metabolome interactions.