Discovery of a Novel and Rich Source of Gluten-Degrading Microbial Enzymes in the Oral Cavity
Helmerhorst, Eva J.
Oppenheim, Frank G.
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CitationHelmerhorst, Eva J., Maram Zamakhchari, Detlef Schuppan, Frank G. Oppenheim. "Discovery of a Novel and Rich Source of Gluten-Degrading Microbial Enzymes in the Oral Cavity" PLoS ONE 5(10): e13264. (2010)
BACKGROUND. Celiac disease is a T cell mediated-inflammatory enteropathy caused by the ingestion of gluten in genetically predisposed individuals carrying HLA-DQ2 or HLA-DQ8. The immunogenic gliadin epitopes, containing multiple glutamine and proline residues, are largely resistant to degradation by gastric and intestinal proteases. Salivary microorganisms however exhibit glutamine endoprotease activity, discovered towards glutamine- and proline-rich salivary proteins. The aim was to explore if gliadins can serve as substrates for oral microbial enzymes. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS. Proteolytic activity in suspended dental plaque was studied towards a) gliadin-derived paranitroanilide(pNA)-linked synthetic enzyme substrates b) a mixture of natural gliadins and c) synthetic highly immunogenic gliadin peptides (33-mer of a2-gliadin and 26-mer of ?-gliadin). In addition, gliadin zymography was conducted to obtain the approximate molecular weights and pH activity profiles of the gliadin-degrading oral enzymes and liquid iso-electric focusing was performed to establish overall enzyme iso-electric points. Plaque bacteria efficiently hydrolyzed Z-YPQ-pNA, Z-QQP-pNA, Z-PPF-pNA and Z-PFP-pNA, with Z-YPQ-pNA being most rapidly cleaved. Gliadin immunogenic domains were extensively degraded in the presence of oral bacteria. Gliadin zymography revealed that prominent enzymes exhibit molecular weights >70 kD and are active over a broad pH range from 3 to 10. Liquid iso-electric focusing indicated that most gliadin-degrading enzymes are acidic in nature with iso-electric points between 2.5 and 4.0. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE. This is the first reported evidence for gluten-degrading microorganisms associated with the upper gastro-intestinal tract. Such microorganisms may play a hitherto unappreciated role in the digestion of dietary gluten and thus protection from celiac disease in subjects at risk.