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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Anaerobic 4-hydroxyproline utilization: Discovery of a new glycyl radical enzyme in the human gut microbiome uncovers a widespread microbial metabolic activity.


The discovery of enzymes responsible for previously unappreciated microbial metabolic pathways furthers our understanding of host-microbe and microbe-microbe interactions. We recently identified and characterized a new gut microbial glycyl radical enzyme (GRE) responsible for anaerobic metabolism of trans-4-hydroxy-l-proline (Hyp). Hyp dehydratase (HypD) catalyzes the removal of water from Hyp to generate Δ1-pyrroline-5-carboxylate (P5C). This enzyme is encoded in the genomes of a diverse set of gut anaerobes and is prevalent and abundant in healthy human stool metagenomes. Here, we discuss the roles HypD may play in different microbial metabolic pathways as well as the potential implications of this activity for colonization resistance and pathogenesis within the human gut. Finally, we present evidence of anaerobic Hyp metabolism in sediments through enrichment culturing of Hyp-degrading bacteria, highlighting the wide distribution of this pathway in anoxic environments beyond the human gut.

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