The effect of bile acids on the growth and global gene expression profiles in Akkermansia muciniphila

Tatsuro Hagi*, Sharon Y. Geerlings, Bart Nijsse, Clara Belzer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Abstract: Akkermansia muciniphila is a prominent member of the gut microbiota and the organism gets exposed to bile acids within this niche. Several gut bacteria have bile response genes to metabolize bile acids or an ability to change their membrane structure to prevent membrane damage from bile acids. To understand the response to bile acids and how A. muciniphila can persist in the gut, we studied the effect of bile acids and individual bile salts on growth. In addition, the change in gene expression under ox-bile condition was studied. The growth of A. muciniphila was inhibited by ox-bile and the bile salts mixture. Individual bile salts have differential effects on the growth. Although most bile salts inhibited the growth of A. muciniphila, an increased growth was observed under culture conditions with sodium deoxycholate. Zaragozic acid A, which is a squalene synthase inhibitor leading to changes in the membrane structure, increased the susceptibility of A. muciniphila to bile acids. Transcriptome analysis showed that gene clusters associated with an ABC transporter and RND transporter were upregulated in the presence of ox-bile. In contrast, a gene cluster containing a potassium transporter was downregulated. Membrane transporter inhibitors also decreased the tolerance to bile acids of A. muciniphila. Our results indicated that membrane transporters and the squalene-associated membrane structure could be major bile response systems required for bile tolerance in A. muciniphila. Key points: • The growth of Akkermansia muciniphila was inhibited by most bile salts. • Sodium deoxycholate increased the growth of A. muciniphila. • The genes encoding transporters and hopanoid synthesis were upregulated by ox-bile. • The inhibitors of transporters and hopanoid synthesis reduced ox-bile tolerance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10641-10653
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number24
Early online dateNov 2020
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • Akkermansia muciniphila
  • Bile acids
  • Transcriptome


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