Fatty acid activation and utilization by Alistipes finegoldii, a representative Bacteroidetes resident of the human gut microbiome

Christopher D. Radka, Matthew W. Frank, Charles O. Rock, Jiangwei Yao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Members of the Bacteroidetes phylum, represented by Alistipes finegoldii, are prominent anerobic, Gram-negative inhabitants of the gut microbiome. The lipid biosynthetic pathways were analyzed using bioinformatic analyses, lipidomics, metabolic labeling and biochemistry to characterize exogenous fatty acid metabolism. A. finegoldii only produced the saturated fatty acids. The most abundant lipids were phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) and sulfonolipid (SL). Neither phosphatidylglycerol nor cardiolipin are present. PE synthesis is initiated by the PlsX/PlsY/PlsC pathway, whereas the SL pathway is related to sphingolipid biosynthesis. A. finegoldii incorporated medium-chain fatty acids (≤14 carbons) into PE and SL after their elongation, whereas long-chain fatty acids (≥16 carbons) were not elongated. Fatty acids >16 carbons were primarily incorporated into the 2-position of phosphatidylethanolamine at the PlsC step, the only biosynthetic enzyme that utilizes long-chain acyl-ACP. The ability to assimilate a broad-spectrum of fatty acid chain lengths present in the gut environment is due to the expression of two acyl-acyl carrier protein (ACP) synthetases. Acyl-ACP synthetase 1 had a substrate preference for medium-chain fatty acids and synthetase 2 had a substrate preference for long-chain fatty acids. This unique combination of synthetases allows A. finegoldii to utilize both the medium- and long-chain fatty acid nutrients available in the gut environment to assemble its membrane lipids.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)807-825
Number of pages19
JournalMolecular Microbiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 John Wiley & Sons Ltd


  • Bacteroidetes
  • acyl-ACP synthetase
  • acyl-CoA synthetase
  • bacteria
  • fatty acid synthesis
  • microbiome
  • phospholipid
  • sulfonolipid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology


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