The gut microbiota is in continuous interaction with the innermost layer of the gut, namely the epithelium. One of the various functions of the gut epithelium, is to keep the microbes at bay to avoid overstimulation of the underlying mucosa immune cells. To do so, the gut epithelia secrete a variety of antimicrobial peptides, such as chromogranin A (CgA) peptide catestatin (CST: hCgA352-372). As a defense mechanism, gut microbes have evolved antimicrobial resistance mechanisms to counteract the killing effect of the secreted peptides. To this end, we treated wild-type mice and CST knockout (CST-KO) mice (where only the 63 nucleotides encoding CST have been deleted) with CST for 15 consecutive days. CST treatment was associated with a shift in the diversity and composition of the microbiota in the CST-KO mice. This effect was less prominent in WT mice. Levels of the microbiota-produced short-chain fatty acids, in particular, butyrate and acetate were significantly increased in CST-treated CST-KO mice but not the WT group. Both CST-treated CST-KO and WT mice showed a significant increase in microbiota-harboring phosphoethanolamine transferase-encoding genes, which facilitate their antimicrobial resistance. Finally, we show that CST was degraded by Escherichia coli via an omptin-protease and that the abundance of this gene was significantly higher in metagenomic datasets collected from patients with Crohn's disease but not with ulcerative colitis. Overall, this study illustrates how the endogenous antimicrobial peptide, CST, shapes the microbiota composition in the gut and primes further research to uncover the role of bacterial resistance to CST in disease states such as inflammatory bowel disease.
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