A Family of Anti-Bacteroidales Peptide Toxins Wide-Spread in the Human Gut Microbiota

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© 2019, The Author(s). Bacteria often produce antimicrobial toxins to compete in microbial communities. Here we identify a family of broad-spectrum peptide toxins, named bacteroidetocins, produced by Bacteroidetes species. We study this toxin family using phenotypic, mutational, bioinformatic, and human metagenomic analyses. Bacteroidetocins are related to class IIa bacteriocins of Gram-positive bacteria and kill members of the Bacteroidetes phylum, including Bacteroides, Parabacteroides, and Prevotella gut species, as well as pathogenic Prevotella species. The bacteroidetocin biosynthesis genes are found in horizontally acquired mobile elements, which likely allow dissemination within the gut microbiota and may explain their wide distribution in human populations. Bacteroidetocins may have potential applications in microbiome engineering and as therapeutics for polymicrobial diseases such as bacterial vaginosis and periodontal disease.