Unraveling function and diversity of bacterial lectins in the human microbiome

Louis J. Cohen, Sun M. Han, Pearson Lau, Daniela Guisado, Yupu Liang, Toshiki G. Nakashige, Thamina Ali, David Chiang, Adeeb Rahman, Sean F. Brady

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The mechanisms by which commensal organisms affect human physiology remain poorly understood. Lectins are non-enzymatic carbohydrate binding proteins that all organisms employ as part of establishing a niche, evading host-defenses and protecting against pathogens. Although lectins have been extensively studied in plants, bacterial pathogens and human immune cells for their role in disease pathophysiology and as therapeutics, the role of bacterial lectins in the human microbiome is largely unexplored. Here we report on the characterization of a lectin produced by a common human associated bacterium that interacts with myeloid cells in the blood and intestine. In mouse and cell-based models, we demonstrate that this lectin induces distinct immunologic responses in peripheral and intestinal leukocytes and that these responses are specific to monocytes, macrophages and dendritic cells. Our analysis of human microbiota sequencing data reveal thousands of unique sequences that are predicted to encode lectins, many of which are highly prevalent in the human microbiome yet completely uncharacterized. Based on the varied domain architectures of these lectins we predict they will have diverse effects on the human host. The systematic investigation of lectins in the human microbiome should improve our understanding of human health and provide new therapeutic opportunities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3101
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


Dive into the research topics of 'Unraveling function and diversity of bacterial lectins in the human microbiome'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this